Movie Review: Pink Floyd’s The Wall

…we came in?

It was just before dawn one miserable morning in late 2012. I went to school early with a lot of work ahead of me. It was along the lines of photoshopping strings out of a stop-motion piece that me and few guys made as an assignment. I figured that I needed to spend as much time as possible and that I needed something in the background. I had heard of The Wall as being a strange movie, according to some friends. Naturally I looked to YouTube and found a full-length print. As soon as I started, I couldn’t help but watch it. Later on, I used this same print to get me through my Computer Graphics class where I sat next to a similar looking wall used on the cover of the album. Coincidence? 100% yes.

Before watching the movie, I recommend listening to the original album so as to get a framework for what the movie has in store. Also, I recommend NOT watching it first thing in the morning for first-time viewers (I speak from experience).

We start off in a hotel room where our main character Pink has built a wall around himself and shut himself out. Told mainly in flashback, we get the first visual in seeing the war “When the Tigers Broke Free”. It’s not until “In the Flesh?” that Pink tells us that if you want to find out what’s going on, “you just have to claw your way through this disguise.”

As the movie goes on, we see the trials that Pink went through as a child, with a dead father, an overbearing mother, and an art-hating teacher. These experiences set up the next part of his story where Pink experiences love from someone other than his mother. This is coupled with a symbolic animation about two flowers engaging in sex and the dangers of it (again, not something to see early in the morning).

As a musician, Pink slowly sinks into a catatonic state and becomes comfortably numb. As he is taken away, we see him transform into the dictator Pink seen at the beginning. With his story already told, we return to the present at a rally not unlike those in Nazi Germany as Pink calls out for those who don’t meet his standards to be put up against the wall. After running like hell, Pink leads a march through the streets waiting for the worms. His soldiers transform into marching hammers. If anyone saw the Sandy relief concert (12-12-12), this animation was used with “In the Flesh?”.

The trial scene is one of the strangest animated sequences I’ve seen in a while with a scorpion woman, a hammer-head teacher, and a talking pair of buttocks who presides over the event after transforming from a worm in a wig. Again, not something for early morning viewing. The wall is torn down but we are left wondering if Pink really hallucinated the dictatorship or if really happened as it ends with a child holding a Molotov cocktail.

This is not your average musical. There is no dancing like you would find in a regular musical. The songs carry the story forward instead of appearing for the sake of being there. True, the album is rearranged for the movie with “Hey You” omitted and some songs moved out of order for a slightly different narrative. Symbolism is a big part of the story as shown in the editing, visuals, and, of course, the soundtrack. It’s not dialogue driven as most of it appears in the songs.

While this may not be one for the 1001 Movies list, it makes my top 10. Even if you’re not a fan of Pink Floyd, this is worth checking out. Last I checked, the YouTube prints are disappearing due to copyright. I found a DVD copy once but I regret not purchasing it as it was gone when I came back. There are ways of watching it, but I’ll leave that up to you to figure out. If you do find a copy online, don’t wait to watch it as it may vanish. This is more than a film, it’s Art.

9.1/10

Isn’t this where…

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