Another Brick In the Wall—DVD Review

Although this blog is named in honor of the Floyd and I had previously viewed snippets, last night marks the first time I've ever seen The Wall in its entirety—though it's been around for 25 years. Perhaps I was waiting for my own big screen, surround sound home theater. Perhaps not.

I don't need to prove my fanhood here; previous blog entries attest to my involvement with the band's music—Saucerful of Secrets having been a defining listening experience that permanently juggled my neurons. So those who were first indoctrinated to Pink Floyd through Dark Side of the Moon and/or The Wall may take me to task, but comments made by Mssrs. Wright and Gilmour lead me to believe they feel pretty much the same way. For, as keyboardist Rick Wright had posted on MySpace:

I'd like to meet a bassist (who) doesn't write songs about his dad all the time.
I believe it was in Nicholas Schaffner's excellent Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey where he reported David Gilmour was in regular battles with Roger Waters about the musicality of the the latter's work. It was Gilmour, then, who insisted that their recordings include a melody component—something to which Waters apparently wasn't, uh, attuned.

In listening to this work all the way through, it became clear why I never rushed out and bought this LP, having also been deeply disappointed by their prior effort, Animals. While Waters may be a terrific poet (and I believe him to be, especially after viewing the extra bits last night), Gilmour is much more the musician of the two, with an able assist from Wright in plotting the notational direction.

Assessing the music of The Wall, there are roughly four tracks that truly qualify as music I like to hear on a repeated basis, and—guess what—they're all Gilmour. And this is pretty much historical running backwards through their catalog.

BUT...about the movie. As all those interviewed pointed out, The Wall was very much a collaborative work of art, extending far beyond Waters' initial ideas. His reaching out to Gerald Scarfe for the live stage visuals, then later the movie, was an inspired choice. And Sir Alan Parker, as director, made an outstanding contribution, as did the cinematographer, the choreographer, and on down the line. Exploring first the inner turmoil of those having attained stardom, coupled with the alienation imposed on us all through our existence as humans ("How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?"), The Wall works as a very creative artwork. But is it entertainment?

During the included interview, Waters remarks that what the film lacks is humor—a key component to his work, he insists. (One wouldn't know it from listening to the Waters-penned Animals). In fact, he felt the film ran too long, which explains why Hey You—one of the more listenable tracks—was cut out of the movie (but added to the DVD as an extra bit).

The Wall's fascist rally scenes were particularly interesting in relation to whose idea it was to include them, Waters stating that he didn't provide the seed. Disturbingly, I saw myself in the crowd, exuberantly expressing my enthusiasm for anything eminating from the stage! How many times has each of us had that experience, with the performers either going through the motions or openly displaying their hostility toward the audience? Having been on the road for seven years as a seminar speaker before hundreds at a whack, I can relate. My guess is that, although it appears he denies it, there's more ownership to these scenes than Waters takes credit for. I wonder if his former bandmates might agree?