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THE WALL: A cultural arts opus turns 35
A dark musical portrait . . .
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!?
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.
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