By Jerome Reuter
I’ve often cited the difficulties of adapting literature to celluloid, but what about music? Music is an art form that thrives heavily on atmosphere and imagination. The challenge lies in creating a visual art form, one that brings is to life before the eyes. Which brings me to Pink Floyd – The Wall, released in 1982. Based on the concept album “The Wall” by Pink Floyd, and written for the screen by Roger Watters. For a lack of a better term, this film is an absolute mind fuck. One that combines psychology, atmosphere, and a visual asthenic, that will weave its way into your subconscious. If you’re unfamiliar with this one, ask anyone who enjoys the ganja, they’ll recommend it to you.
If you’ve ever listened to the album, or seen the film, you know what the story is. To give a general idea for those of you who haven’t, I’ll give you a general idea. Rock star Pink is isolated in his hotel room, in an attempt to shut him off from the rest of the world. Within this said state of isolation, he begins to build his “wall.” What we’re shown over duration is his complete mental breakdown, and his descent into madness.
This is a narrative told through flashbacks, several disturbing animated segments, and a haunting look at his present state. The symbolism of the wall takes on a double meaning, which I’ll touch base upon right now. The first is the point of view from an artist’s standpoint. Anyone who has chosen to endeavor in any art form, will tell you the same thing—art is forged from everything we’ve experienced in out life time. Every traumatic event, every celebrated memory, it all comes out in the works that are forged. Pink suffers from the trauma of a failed marriage, horrible parental situations, victimization of a stern schoolmaster, and the pressures of fame.
The second is the symbolism of isolation, and a further departure from the outside world. Our experiences make us what we are, and at times drive us away from society in general. Reality is a cruel master, and sometimes it’s great to think we can avoid it. We all enjoy taking refuge in the comfort of the reality we’ve built for ourselves, instead of dealing with the one that actually exists.
It’s one of the many reasons this film has endured, it appeals to us on a deep psychological level. It rattles our cages, so to speak. Apart from being a visual masterwork, it touches our inner psyche, and forces us to be reminded of our past—as hard as that might be to revisit. It’s easier to show the world what we think or hope we are, rather than what we really are.
“If you wanna find out what’s behind these cold eyes, you’ll just have to claw you’re way through this disguise”
As Pink degenerates, he slowly transforms into a bizarre alter ego, resembling a fascist dictator. Which are precisely what so many people in the spotlight become. As a society, we place so may artists upon a pedestal, embracing them as God like beings, hanging on to their every word. If a rock star you worshipped told you to kill, would you do it? How far does your’ hero worship go? This is what Watters forces us to focus upon, blatant hero worship.
The lyric says it best: “We want to know where you fans really stand”
The films ending, is nothing short of complete brilliance. In an lengthy animated sequence, aptly entitled “the trial” our protagonist is forced before a tribunal. Pink’s experiences, the trauma that forced the creation of the wall, are all exposed. He’s forced to relive every negative experience, and be exposed before his peers as a scared child, hiding in isolation. Being forced to confront ones’ own fears is a phobia that resides in everyone.
I cannot find anything wrong with this film, it’s just shy of perfection. Whenever someone watches it, they’re forced to not only look at the film, but also themselves.