Director Alan Parker has always had a gift for the integration of music and film, and his many efforts over the years have reflected that. Movies like "Fame" and "The Committments" have made him a director more remembered for his music video skills than his storytelling, even though he's had considerable success with more serious films, like "Midnight Express" and "Mississipi Burning".
For me, though, only one film speaks of Alan Parker, and that's 1982's "Pink Floyd: The Wall". Originally, Parker had intended to make a concert film of Pink Floyd's1980 tour in support of their strange concept album, "The Wall". "The Wall" tells the story of a rock star's descent into madness as he ponders his meaningless existence. For a child of the 70's and early 80's, it was the kind of album that was fashionable to find cool, if only because of its pretentiousness.
Following the collapse of Pink Floyd, Parker reviewed his concert footage, and decided to adapt the album into a film. The result is one seriously demented piece of cinema that's kind of like a bad dream that just keeps getting worse and worse.
The Boomtown Rats' Bob Geldof stars as Pink, a confused rock singer with a fatalistic world view that fuels his mental wall which he puts up to seperate himself from everyone else. Pink suffers from alienation, misses his dead father desperately, and just can't seem to connect with his estranged wife. Add to that his decadent lifestyle as a rock superstar on the road, and Pink begins to "freak out". He has visions of his lonely childhood, fantasizes about being a fascist skinhead leader, and turns his fevered dreams into harsh, rage filled, animated rants.
Alan Parker translates the music into memorable images that are just relentless. All of Pink's life is thrown onto the screen, and we see songs like "Another Brick In the Wall, Part II" changed from an abstract concept into a vision of students being fed into a meat grinder. The animated sequences that reflect Pink's craziness are stunning; the merging of sexuality and violent imagery creates a window into Pink's character and acts to round him out as a real person, not just a cartoon character. Wow, pretty heavy for a rock movie, huh?
While not exactly for everyone, "Pink Floyd:The Wall" is definitely unique entertainment. Besides, where else can you see somone shave his own eyebrows off?
Copyright 1995 John A. Lavin
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