- Movie Rating -

Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982)

| August 13, 1982

Pink Floyd The Wall is a long-form rock opera that, for 95 minutes, wallows in nightmarish images of decay and degradation through striking images, animation and music video-style set pieces that are so engaging in their post-apocalyptic vision that at one point I became concerned for the future of mankind.  Needless to say, this is not a fun movie to watch, but it doesn’t intend to be.  When it was over, I was worn out and kind of sad.  I think that was the point.

The movie, of course, is a music video narrative based on Pink Floyd’s 1978 album “The Wall” but this is not a concert film, it’s more of a fiction set to music.  The point, I gathered, was to see the world through the eyes of a rock star named Pink (Bob Geldof) who is having and overdose and traverse the bizarre highway of his own life and his varied paranoid fears.  The movie is often a collection of every nightmare that we have about the future from nuclear war to urban decay to fears of the rebirth of another fascist leadership.  Those are the outward issues, the movie also deals with his fear of women, abandonment, sexual problems and substance abuse.

The movie is mostly in Pink’s head.  He’s a rock star but we don’t see him perform.  He lives the rock star life style and we see the luxuries like groupies and limos but the fact that we don’t see any concert footage is perhaps a commentary on where he is at this point – it’s not about the music anymore and he’s become so isolated that such things are beyond his reach.  What stands for a concert is an allegory for how he sees his hold over his fans – a scene in which Pink appears as a fascist dictator before his legion of fans who cheer and sing a chorus while he rails against gays, Jews, blacks and anyone who might look a little off.

Pink’s journey is not a happy one on either end of his life.  He is a man who has become isolated from those around him – essentially building a wall around himself – and we are privy to how it came to be.  The movie flashes back to his childhood when he was a lad raised under protective parentage and a cold and unfeeling educational system that favored abuse over understanding.  These leads, of course, to the most famous image in the movie: faceless children being led into a meat grinder while others are beaten and berated by their school masters.  Who wouldn’t crack under that pressure?  The result is that as an adult Pink retreats into a world of drugs and casual sex, neither of which have any joy or meaning as he retreats further and further into himself.  All of this is done through a series of images, often ugly, sometimes beautiful, sometimes nightmarish, and at times all three at the same time. 

What I have described may sound a little off-putting, and I’ll admit that at times I felt that way, but it had an effect on me.  The movie did exactly what it was trying to do; it gave me the feelings that I was suppose to have and left me sad and worn out.  And yet, I don’t say that as a criticism.  This is a brilliantly realized film, bringing a three-dimensional vision to an album that I heard wafting out of my brother’s bedroom as a child but never really understood.  It uses striking images, vivid and often frightening bits of animation and a visual style that really does seem contained within a closed and disintegrating mind.  I loved all of it, but I’m not ready to see it again any time soon.  It’s brilliant, but I’ll need some time before taking the trip again.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1982) View IMDB Filed in: Musical