Film Review: Roger Waters the Wall (released September 29, 2015)
by Greg “Gargs” Allard
Rating: 8.8 out of 10
From the time the album The Wall by Pink Floyd came out in late November of 1979 it dominated the FM airwaves for a number of years. I was there, listening in at the age of 15, just one year from losing my mother. I had been smoking weed for the better part of 1979, perhaps in part trying to cope with my mom’s death, when the words of Roger Waters hit me like a wall of bricks (excuse the pun), “Daddy’s flown across the ocean, leaving just a memory – a snapshot in the family album – Daddy what else did you leave for me?… Daddy whatcha leave behind for me?”
The album examines two major themes symbolized by the wall, namely feelings of desertion and concomitant withdrawal from society. Roger Waters who perhaps narcisistically wrote most of the album (and probably at the cost of the long-term survival of the band as it was known up until then), related his feelings of both losing his father when he was five-months old in Aprilia, Italy during World War II, and his father losing his own father during World War I also at an early age.
Roger Waters the Wall features amazing concert footage of his band’s spectacular tour between 2010 and 2013 and footage of Waters taking a Bently to the places where both his father and grandfather died. Although now in his early 70s, his voice sounds strong, but like that of a young man still grieving, resulting in one of the most powerful emotional performances I’ve ever witnessed in a rock concert either live or on film. When Waters arrives at the places of his father’s and grandfather’s deaths, he literally breaks down crying and then solemnly plays a trumpet in honorific mourning.
The Wall also was based on the life of founding and leading Floyd member Syd Barret who withdrew from the group after their first two albums and required psychiatric care for most of the rest of his natural life.
The movie also has a very interesting bonus segment after the film, where Waters, a very fit man who appears to take care of himself, answers questions from fans with Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. Pink Floyd lead guitarist David Gilmour is mentioned in the discussion, which is fun and humorous but sometimes disheartening for Floyd fans because of Waters reluctancy to rejoin the band. Former member and keyboardist Richard Wright, who also sung “Us and Them” from the Dark Side of the Moon LP, is not even mentioned – an omission which I found both distasteful and disappointing.
Other than that, it is a great movie, that gives some hints about the inner workings of the mind of the genius that is Roger Waters.
The Wall went on to sell over 23 million records (third most in US history) and is listed in Rolling Stone magazine as the 87th greatest album of all time, although if you’re like me, you would place it much higher.