This post is about a filmed version of Roger Waters’ THE WALL, being presented in a limited, one-night- only release at select movie theaters on the evening of September 29th. First produced in 1980, but updated for the current era, this is the grand-daddy of all rock tours as they are now known – full of spectacle and story-telling
CALLING ALL (FORMER?) ROCKERS: IT’S 1979 AGAIN ! Depending on your age and how interested you were in contemporary music, at some point in history you may well have acquired one of the most challenging and creative rock albums of that time – and of all time. The English band Pink Floyd produced THE WALL as the third of their “concept albums” – one in which the music (and later, amazing visuals) revolved around a narrative or theme. What started as a concept album morphed into a 1980 ground-breaking performance (complete with the construction of a wall and projected animations by Times of London caricaturist and artist Gerald Scarfe), a 1982 cult movie and a revival tour from 2010-2013 produced and headlined by Pink Floyd co-founder and songwriter Roger Waters with super-scale, spectacular imagery and theatrical effects enabled by current technology. What started as a rock album became performance art. – Not too unlike opera (hey, think about the Robert Wilson / Philip Glass collaboration Einstein on the Beach).
“The Wall” tells the story of a rock star, Mr. Pink Floyd. The central character is named Pink who is modelled after Roger Waters and the band’s original leader, Syd Barrett. The story, which pretty closely follows Waters’ bio, begins with the loss of Pink’s father during World War II and continues with a series of conflicts at home at school and with his marriage. These all contribute to a sense of abandonment and extreme isolation from society – represented symbolically by a wall. In the first concert tour of THE WALL, an actual wall was constructed block by (Styrofoam) block on the stage, separating the performers from the audience. Later iterations of this idea have had other representations of a wall.
But as often happens with age, events and history and stories take on different meanings over time and resonate with one’s lifetime of experiences. The same words – as in the Pink Floyd songs – now have very different significance. Ever listen to some of the music you mooned over in college and find it means something very different to you now? In the case of Roger Waters’ THE WALL, the isolation and disaffectedness being portrayed start to focus on global social themes – such as greed, pacifism, terrorism and fear. What started as a pretty narcissistic narrative for Mr. Waters (born in 1943) became a selfless one. The personal became epic.
So, why would you want to go to this? You may want to reconnect with – and reevaluate – the deep emotions of your youth and how they were expressed musically and artistically. You may want to better understand and delight in the dazzling creativity and rapid convergence of artforms – opera, drama, rock, video, animations, puppetry – and get a feel for how the lines between them are getting a little fuzzy. You might be interested in the trajectory of a single creative endeavor and see how it has shifted over the years. Or you may want to bask in the nostalgia of it all and break out your skinny jeans, leather, chains and ankle boots and rim your eyes in kohl. In black, all of it. Maybe you just want to get your groove back.
Although he is now embarking on another concert tour, no one expects Roger Waters, at 73, to take on the magnitude of THE WALL again – certainly not as a live performance. So all parties expect this film to be the legacy of this amazing performance – and Roger Waters as well.
DETAILS: The film is on Tuesday, September 29th at 8pm and has a running time of 2 hours and 40 minutes. Although you are welcome to come with (one) friend or your spouse, capacity is strictly limited to this exceedingly popular event – the MWC has one block of tickets and it’s unlikely we will able to get more! If you’re interested, don’t dilly-dally. Tickets are $45. Members, go to the Reservations/ Payment page on the website to secure yours.