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Friday, 31 August 2012

Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982) - Spotlight on... On the Edge

"Oooh, I need a dirty woman... Oooh, I need a dirty girl"

'Pink Floyd: The Wall' is a 1982 musical rock-opera film directed by Alan Parker, and starring Bob Geldof with James Laurenson.
Bob Geldof as Pink

'Pink Floyd: The Wall' tells of the construction and eventual demolition of a metaphorical wall: alienation. The film focuses on a central character, Pink (played by Geldof)

The film is divided into many segments, each based on a Pink Floyd song. I have structured the rest of this blog in the same way, with commentary on each segment. I have managed to find many of the segments on YouTube, and have provided links, where available to enable you to watch the segment as you read.

"When the Tigers Broke Free" (Part I) - Pink Floyd

The film opens with Pink's father (played by Laurenson) smoking a cigarette and cleaning and loading a revolver 

"The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot" - Vera Lynn

The film cuts to a hotel corridor, as we hear a song which is not recorded by Pink Floyd.

"In the Flesh?" - Pink Floyd (with vocals by Bob Geldof)

The sequence begins with Pink sitting in a locked hotel room. The hotel housekeeper knocks, then unlocks the door with her keys. As this occurs, Pink remembers a concert, where a crowd of fans charged and opened a chained door to the concert. The stampede results in a riot where a number of people are crushed, injured and arrested. This sequence is juxtaposed with images of soldiers at war being bombed. As someone who regularly attends concerts, I can relate to the comparison of rioting fans to soldiers at war. 

Pink, wearing a military jacket sings to the spectator, telling us if we want to know whats going on "behind these cold eyes", we'll "just have to claw" our way "through this disguise" - this sets the expectation the character of Pink is not as he appears to be.

We then witness Pink's father killed by a dive-bomber as the song ends. This is followed by the sound of a baby crying, symbolising Pink as a fatherless baby, with his widowed mother.

"The Thin Ice" - Pink Flord

The vinyl cover sleeve for "Another Brick in the Wall"
During this song, Pink is floating in a swimming pool. This image is juxtaposed by a number of wounded soldiers, which leads the water in the swimming pool to turn red, giving the appearance Pink is floating in blood. The song also acts as a transition towards Pink's early life, as the film dissolves into a flashback to the 1950s.

"Another Brick in the Wall" (Part I - Reminiscing) - Pink Floyd

Pink's mother (played by ) is at church praying, following the death of her husband as Pink plays wit a toy airplane.

"When the Tigers Broke Free" (Part I) - Pink Floyd

The reprise of this song shows Pink finding his dead father's army uniform, letter of condolence and bullets. The film shows juxtaposing shots of Pink and his father putting on the uniform.

"Goodbye Blue Sky" - Pink Floyd

This segment is animated by Gerald Scarfe, and presents a white dove which is brutally ripped apart by a black eagle. The eagle flies around leaving a trail of blood on the earth. The eagle is a metaphor for the nazi's killing the innocent, in this case the dove.

"The Happiest Days of Our Lives" - Pink Floyd

After Pink is punished by his schoolteacher, the scene cuts to the teacher in his own forced to eat tough meat. The next day, the teacher spanks a child with a belt as a form of stress release.

The faceless children in Pink's daydream

"Another Brick in the Wall" (Part II - Education) - Pink Floyd

Pink daydreams and imagines a group of students marching in a robotic-like way through a tunnel, where they re-emerge as faceless clones, before falling into an oversized meat grinder. The song ends as mince meat emerges from the meat grinder.

"Mother" - Pink Floyd

During this sequence we learn the cause of Pink's alienation was due to his strict upbringing  by his overprotective mother.

"What Shall we do Now? (Empty Spaces)" - Pink Floyd

This segment is presented as an animated sequence by Gerald Scarfe. 
The animation begins with two flowers caressing each other, who then morph and unite similar to reproductive organs. The female flower eventually destroys the male flower - a reference to the troubled relationship Pink had with his wife, before transforming into a pterodactyl and flying off into the distance

"Young Lust" - Pink Floyd

After learning of his wife's affair, Pink is seen with several groupies, played by a  young Joanne Whalley in her first debut and Jenny Wright.

"One of My Turns" - Pink Floyd

Pink brings a groupie (played by actress Jenny Wright) back to his hotel room. Thinking about his wife, Pink snaps and begins to trash his hotel room, throwing a number of objects at the groupie, and also cuts his hand after throwing a TV out of the window onto the street below. 

"Don't Leave me Now" - Pink Floyd

The sequence opens back to the scene where Pink is floating in the swimming pool, which turns into blood. We are now aware of how he cut his hand. 

After watching some TV on his own, the shadow of Pink's wife transforms into a preying mantis, before transforming into the female flower we saw in the earlier animation.

"Another Brick in the Wall" (Part III - Drugs) - Pink Floyd

The sequence begins as Pink smashes his guitar into the TV screen. This is followed by a montage depicting the construction of the wall.

"Goodbye Cruel World" - Pink Floyd

This very short segment depicts Pink's reaction to his mental wall and acknowledges his isolation of society.

"Is There Anybody Out There?" - Pink Floyd

Largely an instrumental montage, the question "Is there anybody out there?" is asked throughout the segment as Pink attempts to reach out to someone outside of his self built wall. The segment ends as Pink shaves off his eyebrows.

"Nobody's Home" - Pink Floyd

After Pink has shaved his eyebrows, he watches more TV. The song tells of the loneliness Pink feels as a result of his isolation.

Musical program

  • "When the Tigers Broke Free" (Part I) - Pink Floyd
  • "The Little Boy Who Santa Claus Fogot" - Vera Lynn
  • "In the Flesh?" - Pink Floyd (vocals by Bob Geldof)
  • "The Thin Ice" - Pink Floyd
  • "Another Brick in the Wall" (Part I - Reminiscing) - Pink Floyd
  • "Goodbye Blue Sky" - Pink Floyd
  • "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" - Pink Floyd
  • "Another Brick in the Wall" (Part II - Education) - Pink Floyd
  • "Mother" - Pink Floyd
  • "What Shall We Do Now? (Empty Spaces)" - Pink Floyd
  • "Young Lust" - Pink Floyd
  • "One of My Turns" - Pink Floyd
  • "Don't Leave Me Now" - Pink Floyd
  • "Another Brick in the Wall" (Part III - Drugs) - Pink Floyd
  • "Goodbye Cruel World" - Pink Floyd
  • "Is There Anybody Out There?" - Pink Floyd

Two songs from the original Pink Floyd album were not used in the film: "Hey You" & "The Show Must Go On".  "Hey You" was deleted due to the footage being too repetitive (most of it had already appeared in montage sequences elsewhere). The footage is available to view in black and white as a bonus feature on the DVD, under the name "Reel 13".

Did you know...

  • The song "When the Tigers Broke Free" was written by Roger Waters, describing the death of his father, Eric Fletcher Waters, during WWII's Operation Shingle - the song was originally supposed to feature on the Pink Floyd album 'The Wall', but was rejected by other band members for being too personal
  • A young Joanne Whalley appears as a Groupie in her film debut
  • In the song "One of my Turns", Bob Geldof really cut his hand on the shard of glass - director Alan Parker continued filming 
  • Although the film's end credits refers to a soundtrack album from Columbia Records, all that was released was a single containing "When the Tigers Broke Free" and a re-recorded version of "Bring the Boys Back Home"


  • British Academy Award winner for Best Original Song ("Another Brick in the Wall")

Closing remarks

Although I am not a fan of Pink Floyd or their music, I like this film a lot. I really like the way Alan Parker has accompanied an existing work of music with 
visual poetry.  Parker would later show us his talent in telling a story with music and images with 'Evita' (1996).

1 comment:

  1. Amazing break down, friend. I learned a lot about the movie from your blog!! Thanks for the info!