Film: Roger Waters The Wall
Director: Roger Waters, Sean Evans
Starring: Roger Waters, Harry Waters, Dave Kilminster, Snowy White
Roger Waters, The Laddie That Won’t Stand Still
A Review of Roger Waters The Wall
Two of the first stadium concerts I ever saw were Roger Waters’ Radio K.A.O.S. and Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason. These were big, grand productions and in large part defined what an arena show was supposed to look like to me. My introduction to Pink Floyd, I suspect like some others, happened a few years earlier in a dingy basement garnished with left-over and makeshift furniture that had been decorated sometime in the early 70s and left frozen in time. I was listening to a friend’s mix tape (yes, an actual cassette tape), and my musical horizons were quite literally about to be broadened on a scale that has only occurred once or twice since. It was 1984, and I wasn’t even in high school yet.
The track, Another Brick in the Wall (pt.1), demanded I search out the album it belonged to, and thus I became aware of Pink Floyd’s seminal The Wall. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to that album in the decades since, but I wore out at least one taped version that summer (yes, another actual cassette tape). It wasn’t long before I watched the surreal dramatic movie iteration of The Wall with its freaky animated bits, and that brought the music to a whole new level.
So, it was with more than a little trepidation, and a lot more reluctance, that I agreed to write a review of the documentary/concert film Roger Waters The Wall. I’m certainly not one to put people or things on pedestals, but I also don’t like fixing things that aren’t broken. I feared this would end up being an aging artist’s attempt at trying to remain relevant in a world that has long since moved on to brighter and shinier things.
To some (small) degree, I was right. But I was also very, very wrong. Yes, Roger Waters’ voice isn’t what it used to be, and it shows. Then there are these real-but-not-real scenes cut into the concert footage of him traveling to visit the graves of his grandfather and father (who fought in and died in World War I and World War II, respectively). These moments, clearly staged, at times border on awkward. But ultimately, they work – and bring yet another, personal layer to the music.
I will say this, Waters looks fantastic, as fit and charismatic as Floyd “Pink” Pinkerton ever was. Visually, the film looks fantastic too. It’s evident little expense was spared on the concert’s production, and if nothing else this film documents the spectacle that the tour was — and reminds me of the awe that was inspired in me by those first two shows I saw so many years ago. This film is a worthy contribution to the already iconic canon of The Wall, adds a personal perspective to the music itself, and proves it’s still as relevant today as it ever was.
Rating (one to five whistles, five being the best):
Roger Waters The Wall (Documentary, 2014): Four Whistles
The Wall, Pink Floyd (Album, 1979): Five Whistles
Pink Floyd – The Wall (Movie, 1982): Five Whistles
How to Watch: Amazon
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