BACK IN 1979, Pink Floyd released its 12th album, The Wall, which eventually earned the proto-psychedelic group its greatest commercial success, while simultaneously signaling the band's inevitable demise. Somehow front man Roger Waters found inspiration in this impending dissolution and from founding Floyd member Syd Barrett's sad decline into mental illness. (No less unsettling for Waters was a previous incident in which he himself spat upon an overzealous fan and was subsequently horrified by this behavior.)
PINK FLOYD: THE WALL
directed by Alan Parker with Bob Geldof and Bob Hoskins runs November 17-23 at Egyptian
In an appropriately foul mood, Waters then penned the screenplay for this 1982 movie, now being rereleased in its original 70mm format. Despite a reportedly volatile collaboration between Waters, cinematographer Peter Biziou, and director Alan Parker (whose previous work included Midnight Express and Fame, of all things), the film soon became a cult favorite.
Why did the dark, semiautobiographical film supposedly inspire so many viewers to drop acid before the show? Beyond the music and nonlinear storyline, you'd have to point to the surreal animation sequences by renowned political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe. Yet the story of an unhappy, burned-out rock star trashing his hotel room while reflecting on fragments of his life is not what I would call ideal material for a pleasant hallucinogenic journey.
Played by ex-Boomtown Rat and Nobel Prize nominee Bob Geldof, Pink sees his life in vignettes. In childhood, he suffers his father's wartime death and the creativity-squishing rigors of his harsh British elementary school. In adulthood, career fallout leads to drug-induced stupor; shallow, lecherous groupies; and his neglected wife's adultery. In the present, he reaches a crescendo of delusion about mutating into a fascist dictator. Trippy? Sort of. Subtle? Not. Nevertheless, the return of this concept album come to life will undoubtedly be welcomed by nostalgic stoners eager to immerse themselves once again in a film that proved rock movies don't have to be as dumb as Tommy or Quadrophenia.