Directed by Alan Parker
Musician Pink (Bob Geldof) is a musician feeling depressed and isolated and is trapped by the demons of his past.
I head into talking about this iconic film with serious trepidation. It is like nothing else put to film and has generated many passionate fans.
This is such a great film that is so very hard to describe. One thing that makes The Wall so different is the lack of dialogue. They never really name any of the characters besides Pink though his real first name is never given, and his last name is implied to be “Floyd” via a phone exchange. That has almost never happened in a film.
The film is set in Pink’s mental breakdown. There is very little reality here. Most of the real world bits consist of memories of his past assorted trauma. Movies often try for surreal and just make it to weird. This movie has a near hallucinogenic quality about it. Some moments are vivid and real while others you feel as if you are in Pink’s dream.
The symbolism is heavy in this movie. The bricks in the titular Wall seen a few times are his experiences and life events that have brought to where he is. The death of his father when he was an infant. His marriage and its dissolution. Discovering his wife’s affair. Heavy stuff that may not hit you on the first viewing.
The animation is VERY heavy on sexual imagery. If you cannot see it, I do not know what to say. Butterflies and flowers that look like vaginas are rampant. I admit to being at a loss on what it means to the character. My only guess is sexual frustration of some type.
Nazi-like symbology as well as imperial symbols relate to Margaret Thatcher’s government in particular and British foreign policy in general of the time. The crossed hammers seen on the armbands in some scenes and marching along in one of the animated segments were not initially connected to any particular group but were eventually adopted by a group of white supremacists called the Hammerskins in the 80s.
While the music is great and you can look at the film as a series of thematically linked music videos, the movie is hard to watch. It is unrelentingly downbeat. There is no genuinely happy moment as every scene is tinged with a depressing or even nihilistic note. Your spirits will not be lifted by this movie.
The film is based off the 1979 concept album which in turn was inspired by Roger Waters feeling of a growing sense of alienation and isolation having become a bona fide rock star. The film runs with those themes and appears to allude to real life events of Waters and other members of Pink Floyd. Substance abuse, marital problems, and even mental health issues affected members. Waters himself lost his father while an infant just as Pink did. Pink I guess is the summation of the band.
Pink Floyd-The Wall is an unusual film to be sure. It is filled with much more symbolism than most and is much harder to watch. It may not be for everyone, but everyone should give it a look at least once.