I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan. I have all of their albums and videos, I’ve seen Pink Floyd in concert numerous times, and have even seen Roger Waters in concert several times as a solo artist. Sadly, due to circumstances beyond my control I was unable to see his remounting of the Floyd’s seminal work, The Wall,when Roger took it on the road several years ago. I had heard much about how there were new elements in today’s society which he felt could give the story a fresh coat of paint, plus projection technology had come such a long way that he felt he could finally give the theatrical experience he had always envisioned.
I’m also a fan of the 1982 Alan Parker movie Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I don’t know how many times I have seen it. I’ve lost count. I can say that the film really moved me in ways I had not expected, and even watching it a few years back I was again awestruck by the power of that message.
Now we have Roger’s movie, and here is where the comparisons become interesting.
When Alan Parker started to work on the 1982 film there were plans to include concert footage to serve as part of the film’s narrative. The concert was filmed during Pink Floyd’s performance of The Wall while in New York (and that film has become an enormously popular bootleg since then), but sadly due to filming technology being what it was back then, they could not use it. A shame really as it would have been interesting to see what that would have done in terms of telling the story. It also widely known that Roger wasn’t entirely satisfied with Parker’s telling of the story, and even Floyd guitarist, David Gilmour, has said that of the three versions of this particular story, Parker’s version is clearly the weakest in his opinion.
Now Roger has his concert, but this is more than just a concert movie. Perhaps in an attempt to tell the story that he felt should have been told, we are given a film that is a reversal of what Parker’s 1982 film attempted to achieve. With Parker’s movie we were supposed to get a film with the story of our protagonist, Pink, and the difficulties he has had in growing up since the death of his father during WW II, and the Pink Floyd concert would be there to help enhance that story. However with Roger’s film, we now have this gloriously filmed concert from Quebec, interspersed with a docudrama of Roger traveling through Europe, first visiting the gravesite of his grandfather who died during WW I, and then finally to the memorial of all those soldiers who died at Anzio in Italy (where Roger’s father was shot and killed). Along the way we see Roger talk to family members, strangers, and he even talks to a bartender while in France, but the poor bartender doesn’t speak any English, while he’s forced to endure Roger’s depiction of what happened with the Anzio bridgehead and how his father died. There are also two absolutely heartbreaking moments where Roger reads a letter that was sent by his late father’s commanding officer informing the family of his father’s death, and the camera pulls back to where you can then see tears rolling down Roger’s face. The second, and probably the saddest of them all, is when Roger finally sits on a bench at the memorial for the soldiers who died at Anzio, and right in front of him he sees his father’s name, and Roger breaks down sobbing. It’s these scenes that are woven through the much greater (in length) footage of the Quebec concert, and in doing this we finally see inside Roger’s mind and heart, and we begin to understand the wall that he built in his own life and how that shaped, not only who he is, but the story that became The Wall. And while I have seen several really good bootleg videos of this concert, seeing it on the big screen with Roger’s docudrama woven in to serve as a backbone for the overall film, gave it more weight than it previously had.
As for the concert, Roger has clearly taken events from history as well as current events to help shape this new telling of The Wall. Advanced digital projection really comes into play during the song “The Thin Ice” where we first see an image of Roger’s family while his father was still alive, and as the song continues we see more people who are casualties of war and violence, including soldiers who have died during the conflicts in the middle-east since 2001, as well as civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, who simply died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Each of these people, through amazing digital projection technology, has his or her picture projected on each of the bricks as the wall is slowly being built. Later, in a moment that is clearly meant to shock and then break your heart, a projection of a traveling subway train is seen traversing the length of the stage, when it slows down and you then hear gunshots. At this moment Roger sings a brand new epilogue to “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2” and we see a picture of a young Muslim man who was apparently gunned down in 2005 in the London Tube, because he was a Muslim.
These are the bricks in the wall that Roger sings about, and while watching this concert I became acutely aware of the wall that I had built up to cut myself off from the horrors of today’s society. That’s when it became so incredibly clear. This film serves as both a warning to us about building walls in our own lives, as well as an indictment against those governments, businesses, and individuals, who are responsible for all of these deaths, and that each death is yet another brick in the wall for us both individually, and as a community.
This film is powerful. I initially had reservations when I learned that there would be this docudrama that was to serve as a thread throughout the concert, but it was done with such class and beautiful imagery that I actually thought that the late Storm Thorgeson had possibly directed this. It did not disappoint in the slightest, and I can only hope that should Roger release this concert to home video that it will retain the docudrama of Roger’s trip to Italy, and as he puts it, “going home.”
You can see the trailer for this concert movie below:
5 out of 5 stars