On this day (March 22) in 1980, Pink Floyd’s single “Another Brick In the Wall Part 2” was released, and it stayed at number 1 on the US singles charts for 4 weeks. The Wall remains one of my favorite albums of all time, and the movie, directed by Alan Parker and illustrated by Gerald Scarfe, remains one of my top three favourite movies ever.
To me this film seemed to capture both the craziness of big-time rock and roll as well as the alienation and confusion I was experiencing as a typical teenager. It was an album and a movie I could get lost in: the music, tinged with desperation and anger, and the movie, portraying the visual confusion of a drug-addled rock star played by a young Bob Geldof, that not merely blurred the borders between reality and hallucination, but positively chewed them up.
Other movies have done a good job at portraying the surreal life of a travelling superstar musician, or even wannabe superstars such as in Almost Famous, and even This is Spinal Tap, but The Wall, with its limos, roadies, groupies and drugs seemed to capture it all with all of the glitzy overkill of the early days of MTV and the music videos that were to follow.
As a piece of art. I find The Wall to be amazing. Some might find it dated now, of course, but it reminds me in many ways of The Sting, directed by George Roy Hill, which is another of my three top favourite movies of all time. The Sting used Scott Joplin’s ragtime genius to capture the feeling of Depression-era America, and used a Norman Rockwell-style cinematographyto frame it all. Parker basically used the angry sharp-edged animations of Gerald Scarfe to the same effect.
The wall also represented an excellent example of the concept album: something you were expected to listen to from beginning to end – two full LP’s – a style of entertainment that is less welcome in the age of downloadable singles.
I am not sure if there is a “Making of The Wall”documentary out there, but I would love to get my paws on it if there is.