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Movie Critic Review: Truly A Dystopian Movie

What awaits a movie after its making?
Critical acclaim? Commercial success?
Which of these is more important for a movie?
Could these two criteria be equal? A point at which a movie is at half way
between hit and miss?
I was thinking philosophical movies were doomed.
Candidates for failure but the stunning fact is most of them were a success in both ways.
For a list of philosophical movies go here Philosophical Films
I am still looking for an Anthony Quinn movie of the sixties which was extremely unintelligable!
And another one with Charlton Heston starring in it.
Anyhow the statistics on "Pink Floyd The Wall" are not encouraging.
So was it one of those "Flop for philosophy" movies or....what?

Pink Floyd The Wall UK, 1982.

95 Min, Color, Genre: Psychedelic Drama
Cast:  Bob Geldof* and others.
Edited by Gerry Hambling
Screenplay by Roger Waters
Animation: Gerald Scrafe
Music: The Group Pink Floyd
Directed by Alan Parker (Sir) who won nineteen BAFTA awards, ten Golden Globes and ten Oscars.

The Group Pink Floyd


"When I was a child, I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look, but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb." From the lyrics of The Wall.

"Better to watch it high or comfortably numb." One viewer's view.
“It was like nothing anyone had ever seen before—a weird fusion of live action, story-telling and of the surreal.”Pink Floyd The Wall Director Alan Parker on the movie’s Cannes premiere.
"The lyrics and cinematography make this movie great." says Me.
Designer/animator Gerald Scrafe was a caricaturist and political cartoonist before he began collaborating with Pink Floyd. His crossed hammer symbol proved so iconic that it was adopted by actual fascist groups!
Director Parker called The Wall “the most expensive student film ever made.”

WARNING: This is not an upbeat or fun movie by any stretch of the imagination.
Yet, it is constructed in such a skillful manner by director Alan Parker (Midnight Express)
that it is hard not to justify its reputation as a work of art.
The movie is a depiction of an existential experience that equates madness, alienation, the atrocities of war, mind-numbing drug addiction, infidelity, fascism to living behind a mental wall to which these negative attributes are just bricks that add to the wall.
It's a treatise on self-pity.
Many critics believe the movie to be a blend of two biographies. That of the late Syd Barrett, one of the founders of the group Pink Floyd and bits from the autobiography
of the film/song writer Roger Waters.
The movie is also thought by many to contain hidden meanings and hence the advise by critics and reviewers to see it more than once or at least watch it carefully. Actually it can be seen from the middle or end or at any given minute which is evidence of its powerful structure.
Bear in mind that a movie engenders more detail, incorporates various visual equivalents
to ideas, memories, whims and desires than other works such as the novel. A filmmaker, unconsciously sometimes, and through light, shade and sound conveys a multitude of details that for the duration of  the movie you won't be able to fully grasp it.
The fact that this movie is a kind of interpretation of the music album "The Wall", one song after another and that the images correlate to the lyrics of each song makes it pretty watchable and encourages repeat watching.


Some artistic renderings that are peculiar to this movie and impart on it a classical importance are those graphic representations which derive from a seemingly psychedelic origin but boost the whole expressive experience of the movie.
Marching hammers sweep the streets in assertive steps invoking the rise of the neo-Nazis while their leader Pink is spreading his word through a megaphone and the legendary song "Waiting for the Worms" provides a superb complimentary!
Two flowers morph into human genital organs, male a female, that writhe and coil into a ritual love-making but suddenly grow vicious teeth and gnash on each other. The female vagina, alas, devours the penis (an expression of female possessiveness, I guess). Then that weird transformation in which beautiful white pigeons change into a gruesome prehistoric black bird.
People are wearing oxygen masks (referring to lethal gas or dangerous bugs). In a sarcasm that is both forboding and grossly hilarious, a paradox ingeniously described is when gas masks fuse with human faces to become one. Had Darwin ever imagined that evolution would ultimately lead to a merger of humans with machines and then regress to walk like monkeys?
All this symbolism and allegory is bound to stick to the viewers mind. The movie barely has any dialogue but is packed with these symbolic representations which are hard to analyze and are open to uncountable interpretations based on the viewer's perspective.
The movie literally and solely uses the songs in the original music album to build its events.
The graphic art (cartoon as there were no CGIs or other computer technologies at that time) augments the aesthetic value of the movie and aptly expresses some wild visions. The political cartoonist Gerald Scrafe scattered his work to total 15 minutes of the movie time.
As mentioned above the graphics are only 15 minutes dispersed across the film to express some of the scenes that can not be reflected otherwise. In fact, if you omit these 15 minutes the whole movie would be flawed!


The rock star Pink (portrayed by the real life punk star Bob Geldof) is presented to us as
an unidentified and a truly depressed person. The camera slowly climbs up toward his face. On his wrist we see a child's watch with Mickey Mouse figure on it (referring to a disturbed childhood). A cigarette between his long trembling fingers is turned into ash without falling, perhaps to signify lost hope or as if he is clinging to some thwarted dreams.
Then a flash-back takes us into the personal life of the rock hero Pink (Bob Geldof)
as a child in the fiftiesof last century. His father was killed in World War Two.
Pink is a sad fatherless child who watches other children enjoying playing in the park with their dads.
Pink remembers these images while he is sitting in a chair in his dark room, very drugged.
In another bout of memories we see him in an underground tunnel watching a train pass by with masked children shouting at him. But the shouting turns out to be from that ugly despotic teacher. He is now in class with the teacher ridiculing him on discovering that he was writing a poem. Here two memorable songs come to brighten the events "Another Brick in the Wall Part Two" and "The happiest Days of our Lives"  But his memories become more annoying when we see through his eyes how children are driven into machines that change them into dolls and minces them into worms and then distribute them under the shouted instructions of the despotic teacher (the establishment)!

The Despotic Teacher
Pink starts to gradually lose his mind after a series of eccentric imaginings. He destroys everthing in his room. Thinking that he is maddened by sexual deprivation he goes to see some prostitutes but does not really have sex with any woman. Here we hear the nice song "Young Lust". And we sense that a certain blonde girl seemed to like him.
Sitting on that chair in front of the TV, Pink remembers his father's farm but he is enclosed  by a fence and surrounded by hammers. He imagines worms in his hands. Then he is detached from reality and we see him watching TV with the child he was, little Pink, sitting next to him. Then Pink's friends break into his apartment as they realize he has not left it for hours. Here the song would be "Comfortably Numb" .
Pink now loses his mind and shaves his eyebrows and body hair. He imagines he is the chief of a neo-Nazi organization and addresses a group of young followers urging them to practice vandalism and to  disseminate his call and compel non-followers to abide by his rules. He takes as a logo the image of two hammers forming the letter X inside a circle. I did the same. See first image up there!
It is evident that he symbolizes coercion and dictatorship (which I don't!). The song "Run Like Hell" tells about the trials and tribulations afflicting his character.
Pink not only loses communication with reality but is now in conflict with his damaged childhood which belongs to the era of World War II. The loss of communication is expressed by adopting physical violence  the embodiment of this lack of human communication. 
The film does not provide any model solution to Pink's miseries and humiliation.
The use of graphic art and animation was the quite compatible with the nightmarish atmosphere of the film. 
To tell about the existential anxieties of human beings borne of the way industry is eroding their human nature and virtues it is apparently best to combine the real, the unreal and the surreal.

* Bob Geldof is well-known as an anti-poverty activist. Ironically, Geldof, who is also the lead singer for
the Irish punk band The Boomtown Rats, was reportedly not a Floyd fan.
Below is a selection of two of the songs from the movie. You can watch the full movie free on YouTube.


Editor's Note

This post was originally published on 5/17/12 10:32 PM Est Time.


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