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THE WALL: A cultural arts opus turns 35

Updated on December 20, 2014

A dark musical portrait . . .

Scarfe's phenomenal art.
Scarfe's phenomenal art.
The life and the events of mythical rocker Pink unfolded in Scarfe's trademark dizzying array of flavors and colors.
The life and the events of mythical rocker Pink unfolded in Scarfe's trademark dizzying array of flavors and colors.

PINK FLOYD THE WALL Finds itself amongst modern America's most culturally significant films.

In 1982 I was fifteen years old...

Looking back, one of my few memories associated with the 'young lust' (pun intended) of teenage adolescence, was standing in line to purchase admission into The Wall. Almost by its mere sophomoric nature alone, teenage adolescence implies a degree of impatience.

In my teen impatience, I remember actually being pissed off as to why Pink Floyd's 4-sided double album had taken such a long time to translate to film. The news was out the day the L.P. was released -in 1979- that work on a Pink Floyd The Wall movie had already begun.

I didn't know which news was better: a new Pink Floyd album that the 70s rock and roll world had anticipated for years, or hearing Pink Floyd was putting out a film

By 1982, however, my enthusiasm had gone from "Man! I can’t Wait!” to “Man, where the hell is it!?" The movie's arrival had taken a full three years after the double album's initial 1979 release.

Today, three years is nothing. But at fifteen, that approximated 20% of my then life-to-date. So, yeah, it was quite a big deal. Applying that same ratio today would be the equivalent of me waiting over nine years to see a film. In retrospect, I suppose I can see how I could've become heated.

In 2014, the film –which took three years of painstaking hand crafted frame by frame artwork- will be thirty-two years old. Meanwhile, Pink Floyd’s 1979 benchmark smash double album -largely regarded by fans and musicologists alike as the band’s defining crown diamond- turns thirty-five!?

In the title role of Pink, Bob Geldolf, portrays the manic musician suffering for his art.
In the title role of Pink, Bob Geldolf, portrays the manic musician suffering for his art.

As a corruptible ‘rock nazi’~ Geldof delivered flawlessly

Once the experience was over, while walking from the theater, I became immediately aware of where those three years went, and, why the film took so long to translate to cinema.

Based upon Pink Floyd's 1979 musical album of the same title, Pink Floyd The Wall chronicles the rise and fall of supposed British rock-n-roller sex symbol "Pink," played to perfection by Boomtown Rats lead singer, and Live Aid coordinator, Sir Bob Geldof.

Set in the cinematic duality of ‘Seamless Realism' and ‘Formalism,’ the hand drawn work celebrates the caricature art of Gerald Scarfe, the renowned English political cartoonist and illustrator. The Wall uses both mediums to interweave Pink's neuroses, addictions, childhood abuse, fears and desires.

The signature Pink Floyd 'Wall Scream'.
The signature Pink Floyd 'Wall Scream'.

Once the money-making potential of Pink becomes realized by the exploiters in his life, Pink ceased being human and became a cash cow. Parasites feeding upon his talent provided insight into the same fame monster which oft befalls entertainers.

Pink finds acceptance of himself, a visage of empty and ill-spent young adulthood, through traditional escapism: alcohol, sex and narcotics. As Pink collapses inwardly, he realizes that in order to find himself he must confront fears and extricate himself from the addictions to which he's become "comfortably numb."

The Wall is brilliant in its horrifying multiple realities, its complex music and its blending of various visual mediums. With Pink Floyd holding so many milestones throughout their 50+ year career, The Wall is oft regarded as the band's crowning achievement; a contribution to, and celebration of, themselves.

Pink Floyd images, artwork and photographs cited in this article are used with the implicit intent of promoting Pink Floyd The Wall with no financial gain whatsoever by the article's author. All imagery, artwork and photographs from Pink Floyd The Wall cited and used in this article remain the exclusive copyrighted property and material of MGM/UA and Roger Waters/Pink Floyd management. Any breech is unintended.

The Wall's cultural significance

So then, why is this movie still so culturally significant?

Amongst art, film and music societies, The Wall is widely regarded as the last great, truly iconic hand-created animation "super film", akin to its 1960s Beatles-infused cousin, Yellow Submarine.

As personal computer animation, stop-frame animation and Henson oriented puppets began saturating 1980s movies, the The Wall officially ushered out handcrafted movie art, which stepped aside (or, more aptly, was pushed aside) for what became the CGI revolution.

The Wall was a bridge between our cultural past and visionary glimpses of our supposed future. The Wall is an example of the powerful imagery and the moving beauty that hand-rendered artwork can (still) command...

Yeah... Even in this 21st Century digital downloadable society.

Technical nirvana is great and all but there really is something a wee bit satisfying about coming across a film that cannot -and will not ever- be replicated.

And, oh, by the way... which one's Pink?

[Insert smirk here].




© 2014. Three Doves Media

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    • R. Martin Basso profile image
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      R. Martin Basso 8 years ago from Tennessee

      hi floyd... uh oh looks like you hit 'submit' 2x because there's a double entry above. I gotta let them both on because I've learned from the past in that if I cancel one out, both will be deleted, and we don't want that! lol.

      You raise some good points and bring some nioce insight to this. THank you for your valued input. I'm pleased that you enjoyed.

      Reid

    • profile image

      floyd fan 4 life 8 years ago

      great analysis. you have a talent for it obviously. i too was 15 in '82 and i remember admiring the acting talent of geldof and i remember the sheer pain i felt as i watched his character's life unravel into a fascist nighmare. it repulsed me yet i was transfixed to the screen. we can't forget that all of this wouldn't have ben realized without the immense talent of roger waters.

    • R. Martin Basso profile image
      Author

      R. Martin Basso 8 years ago from Tennessee

      thanks gregg.

    • profile image

      gregg h. 8 years ago

      awesome stuff!

    • R. Martin Basso profile image
      Author

      R. Martin Basso 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Hi Veronica... You are indeed welcome

    • Veronica profile image

      Veronica 8 years ago from NY

      God, I loved The Wall.

      Thanks for this.

    • Shirley Anderson profile image

      Shirley Anderson 8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I hope so!!!

    • R. Martin Basso profile image
      Author

      R. Martin Basso 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Hi Shirley.... This movie was instrumental in my development and when my son gets a tad older (he's 10 now) it will be 'required viewing'...Lol. Incidentally, You're welcome on Yellow Submarine, which my son started watching when he was 6... Hmmmmm did I just give away a possible 'hint' of future entries on the Top 100 list? lol.

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

      I am with Shirley on this one.. I have never seen the movie The Wall, (although I listened to Pink Floyd and their music), and have now had my curiosity peaked. I can't wait to see your list of movies. Loved the 'SOCIETAL THEME' definitions. Thanks.

    • Shirley Anderson profile image

      Shirley Anderson 8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I've never seen The Wall, don't know how I missed it, but you have caught my curiosity so now it is on my list of movies to watch in future.

      Thx, RMB. Love that mentioned Yellow Submarine, BTW. :)

    • R. Martin Basso profile image
      Author

      R. Martin Basso 8 years ago from Tennessee

      CW... Yeah, Secondhand Lions was a cool flick. You're right on that one. It's a good film but not on my 100 list.

    • R. Martin Basso profile image
      Author

      R. Martin Basso 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Hi Desert Blondie;

      Thanks for your kind words. Looks like I might have created a monster with this list! lol... I'm now locked into another 99 articles. I have the list completed, (which took me over 2 years to compile). Maybe I should just put it out there, huh? Hmmmmmm.

      Lol. Thanks for your inspiration.

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Well, at least there's that. I just watched "Secondhand Lions" again last night. If you haven't seen that, yet, I can't recommend it highly enough.

    • desert blondie profile image

      desert blondie 8 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

      Such good "societal themes" background as you begin your list! Will be waiting to see more of these!

    • R. Martin Basso profile image
      Author

      R. Martin Basso 8 years ago from Tennessee

      CW- Don't fret... I was speaking to a close friend today about my top three movie selections and he'd not seen two of them... lol.

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Good Hub, Reid. I'm ashamed to admit, but I've yet to see this movie in it's entirety. Without fail, something always happens. But, I really want to.

    • R. Martin Basso profile image
      Author

      R. Martin Basso 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks Para... Another much appreciated comment from you. I regard your hubs highly and appreciate the insight. Yes, Scarfe is a true master....

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Good choice. The Wall is full of great imagery (and music). And Scarfe is one of the all-time masters in his field.

    • R. Martin Basso profile image
      Author

      R. Martin Basso 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you Guide Baba... And might I add that you now hold a milestone.... You are the FASTEST person ever on HubPages to provide feedback to one of my hubs..... 16 minutes after publication!

      lol.

    • guidebaba profile image

      guidebaba 8 years ago from India

      Good Work.

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