Pink Floyd The Wall (1982)


The Memories. The Madness. The Music... The Movie.

   I'm not a huge Pink Floyd fan. Yeah, I've heard some of their tunes and enjoyed them, but it's never called out to me as my particular band amongst the ocean of music to try and catch. Knowing this, I guess you figured I watched this one more by recommendation then absolute desire - I wanted to watch a rock opera of sorts, and a pal goes "try this one." Can Floyd mesmerize the audience, or is this movie just another brick in the wall?

   As far as I can tell, the story here revolves around the musical artist Pink Floyd (as to whether the movie's version is supposed to have anything to do with the real Pink Floyd or any of the band members, I don't have a clue). Things are a bit disjointed in the storytelling placement however, often jumping from one timeline to the next to the next without the slightest care in the world, so I'll break it down a bit to make it easier. First, we have the story of Pink's father in the War as a British Soldier - who doesn't make it back. Here, we also get a scene of crazy animated symbolism.

   Next thread is that of young pink - which comes in two flavors. In the first flavor we have his interactions with his mother post-death of his father. He gets pretty sick during this part, and later it's implied that he's being crushed under her protective weight (albeit it always looked a bit to me like she might have cared less than normal, not more). In part two, we get to explore Pink's existence during school, where all the headmasters take out their anger from home on the kids in any which way they can. A good chunk of this is taken up by Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall," and again with some heavy symbolism - although this time it's done with both practical props and animated segments.

   Finally - and this is where it gets most confusing - is the swan song of Pink. We see his journey as a musical star, his marriage to a wife that later goes on to cheat on him, and the eventual destruction of a man from the inside out. Drugs play a role here to some extent, seemingly being used to get him away from the TV and on stage (although like I said, this is the most confusing part in my opinion), and inter spaced in this section is a bit that's a symbolic Hitler comparison that could hit close to home for some people (I'm open minded, it doesn't bother me, but I understand it might some people). This part sticks out as being almost a fantasy as opposed to something that is really happening, but with some of the other crazy events that happen as the plot jumps around, it's hard to really tell if it's supposed to be some inner craziness of Pink or if at some point down the road it actually happens or not. Come the end of the movie, however, the perfectly numb Pink is finally forced with breaking down his wall of isolation and being free - for better or worse.

I know it's just a cheapo plastic mask, but something about it makes this very creepy.

I know it's just a cheapo plastic mask, but something about it makes this very creepy.

  Of course, if you are a fan of Pink Floyd then you are gonna love the audio on this disc. Although there is a few moments of dialogue, 90 percent of the film is generally Pink Floyd's soundtrack - and yet it all ties into the movie. This makes for a great bit of musical storytelling (unlike Through the Never), even though it does sound as though songs are cut short most of the time as scenes transition. Actors do a decent job on screen, in the sense that it seems believable for the parts that they are supposed to be doing. I wouldn't expect it to win any awards for the acting jobs, but when Pink finally loses his cool and starts obliterating everything in his room, you can genuinely believe that the character has probably broke something in his mind as well.

 From a thinking standpoint, the movie is a pile of gold. Symbolism is ripe throughout, and it appears in a slew of different ways. Animated segments are smoothly done and quite hyper-sensualized, often containing bright colors that will quickly morph between equally recognizable shapes like the "lava" in a lava lamp. This isn't to say that the animated segments are happy - almost every single one follows on the very roots of something depressing or terrifying for poor Pink - the literal Iron Eagle crushing the hill of soldiers in it's talons, the headmaster pushing kids through the meat grinder - and quite frankly sometimes frightening for the audience if you think about it. Practical effects are used to great effect as well, ranging from Molotov cocktails and flames and riots all the way down to a simple plastic mask that devalues the individuality of the person behind it.

   Costumes and scenery is mostly period British, which is to say it's something different for me (since most of what I end up watching is more America based). Pink, being a musical hero, ends up wearing the widest variety of (and at times the least) outfits ranging from oriental zen to third-Reich inspired uniforms. By far, the most impressive outfit is the cheap-looking plastic masks worn by the kids during the school segment mentioned before, and as for why I just can't really place it. It's noticeably a cheap mask, and yet it somehow just resonates in the scenes it appears to make it want to haunt your dreams.

Animated Symbolism abound!

Animated Symbolism abound!

   The movie isn't for everyone, of that I'm positive. If you don't like Pink Floyd then you won't enjoy it to it's fullest, and if you aren't in to watching movies heavy with symbolism and deep thought, then it's a double whammy of negative recommendation. It's a well done movie, but it can also be rather confusing at times while it rapid-fires back and forth between the different time-frames present within it. If you like Floyd or want to do some heavy symbolism viewing, maybe see something a little different, then maybe you should check it out - but for the common person, I think Pink Floyd's movie very well can just be seen as another brick, even if it is one very unique looking wall.

Pink Floyd - The Wall
Starring Bob Geldof, Christine Hargreaves, James Laurenson, Eleanor David, Kevin McKeon