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Pink Floyd: The Wall (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on May 12, 2013

I’ve written before about this movie, and how hard it is to write about because it’s so very personal to me.  So this time I’m going to do something a little different.  I’m going to run it down track-by-track and give each a 1 to 10 rating… there will be occasional comments about the movie, but it’s probably going to be more about the songs.

“When the Tigers Broke Free (prelude)” – This is such a good song, it’s a shame it’s not on the album.  It was eventually added as a bonus track on The Final Cut, where it probably fits in better thematically.  Either way, I love the song to death.  Not a great opener to the movie, though.  The song gets split in two, it should just be presented a whole later on.  9.

“In the Flesh?” – Geldof singing it in the film, does a pretty good job.  Love that descending riff.  9.

“The Thin Ice” – The loud part annoys me, but I really like the mellow parts.  “And the sea may look warm to you, babe….”  Geldof in the pool is one of the film’s dumber images.  7.

“Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1” – I love that this scene, where little Pink tries to go home with another family, is the kind of thing that would linger in his memory forever.  A poignant section of the film.  9.

“When the Tigers Broke Free” – Now this is exactly where the song belongs, breaking up the first two parts of “Another Brick” a little bit.  The lyrics for this are so goddamn good.  10.

“Goodbye Blue Sky” – Again putting some distance between “Another Brick Part 1” and “Another Brick Part 2”, this time by mixing up the order a bit.  No complaints here.  My second favorite song on the album, dig the cadence of those vocals and those gorgeous “ooh”s.  Fantastic, haunting Gerald Scarfe animation.  10.

“The Happiest Days of Our Lives” – I don’t know if I love the classroom/”Money” interruption here, or if I hate it.  Not a big fan of this song.  The bassline is awesome but I find the lyrics a bit stupid.  7, I guess.  Maybe 6.

“Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” – Time for the big hit.  Those masks are so fucking disturbing.  They look like they should be too cheap, but they totally work.  At one point in my life I could play this guitar solo by memory.  When the students bust into full chaos and destruction mode, it’s a pretty amazing scene.  The song is overplayed for sure, but it’s a damn good tune nonetheless.  9.

“Mother” – Can I say I’ve never liked this song?  I know it’s a favorite for a lot of people.  It’s really long and boring and the lyrics bug me (“Mother do you think they’ll try to break… my balls”).  And yet, I still find myself singing along, so I guess that’s something.  Love the little bit about the registry office.  6.

“Empty Spaces” – A slow burn of a song.  The Scarfe animation here was probably the filthiest thing I’d ever seen at the time.  That shot of Pink squatting by the phone that fades into the corner of the screen is dumb.  7.

“What Shall We Do Now” – It always bugged me when I would listen to the album and this song wasn’t there, even though the lyrics are printed on the sleeve.  Goddamn, I love this one, so kickass.  Scarfe’s animation here is wonderful, too.  I sing this in the shower a lot.  9.

“Young Lust” – Too cock-rock for my tastes, rather obnoxious.  I just don’t like this song.  However… boy, did I love Jenny Wright in those pink spandex pants.  Young lust, indeed.   I still have a bit of a fetish for tight spandex, I bet that comes from this movie.  5.

“One of My Turns” – The introduction of The Dam Busters, which I finally got around to watching a few years back and it’s great.  Not too crazy about the quiet/loud dynamics here, but it’s a decent tune.  7.

“Don’t Leave Me Now” – Ugh, whiny and annoying.  3.

“Another Brick in the Wall, Part 3” – I really like this montage, Pink reaching a turning point in his breakdown.  I think this is my favorite of the three “Brick” songs, that organ sound really does something for me.  9.

“Goodbye Cruel World” – Short and sweet, a perfect album break (yes, before the world of digital music, you had to get up and put on the second album).  I like how abruptly it cuts out.  8.

“Is There Anybody Out There?” – Besides the profound disappointment that comes with “Hey You” not being in the film (although it is kind of a speed bump, it’s a great tune), this is pretty good.  Lovely guitar arpeggios going on.  This scene provides one of the best visuals in the movie, as Pink tries to organize the debris of his life into some twisted internal logic.  Also, the audio commentary on the DVD is really funny in this part.  9.

“Nobody Home” – My favorite on the album, and maybe my favorite part of the movie too.  Striking imagery as young Pink tries to get through to old Pink, and wanders around the scarred battlefield.  Every line in this song is perfect.  “I’ve got the obligatory Hendrix perm, and the inevitable pinhole burns”.  10.

“Vera” – This is totally out of left field and doesn’t really fit into the album (just a generalized bit of nostalgia) but it’s so lovely and catchy.  Great to sing along to.  9.

“Bring the Boys Back Home” – The weirdest thing on the album.  I used to hate it, but it’s grown on me.  Paired with “Vera”, it’s the most filler-ish part of the album, but it’s so odd that I appreciate it being there.  7.

“Comfortably Numb” – Another big, big song.  I really adore the bridge/chorus (and the big ending solo), but the verses irritate me.  I like Bob Hoskins’s little “Fuck me” when he enters the hotel room, and the whole thing with the rat is sweet and sad.  Geldof’s skin as he goes through his transformation used to really freak me out.  This song is a bit too played out for me to enjoy as much as I used to.  8.

“In the Flesh” – Another missing song (“The Show Must Go On”), which is too bad.  This is markedly different from the album version, but I might like it better.  That brass is fantastic.  Geldof gets to do some actual acting here, with mixed results.  It took me years to figure out that “spots” meant “acne”.  9.

“Run Like Hell” – The funkiest song on the album.  That riff is so great, and the insistent momentum of the vocals grabs you.  You can’t help moving a little bit to this song, and then you feel weird about it because it’s one of the most disturbing parts of the film.  10.

“Waiting for the Worms” – Meh.  Love the instrumental parts of the song, and the marching hammers is one of the film’s most indelible images, but the words are kinda dumb.  6.

“Stop” – Another big departure from the album, where Geldof just mumbles the lyrics in the toilet (along with lyrics to “Your Possible Pasts”, a nice easter egg for fans).  7.

“The Trial” – Yeah it’s the big climax but I really don’t like this part at all.  The song is too gimmicky and specific, it’s where the “concept” of the concept album finally crawls too far up its own ass.  Scarfe’s stuff is rather weak here, too, it has a rough, unfinished quality and the phallic judge is groan-worthy.  How do you love a song with “defecate” in the lyrics?  But I like the ending part, with the bits of unused footage.  3.

“Outside the Wall” – A nice ending, although frankly I think they could have found a better shot to freeze on than the kid dumping out the Molotov cocktail.  “It’s not easy banging your heart against some mad bugger’s wall” is a terrific line.  8.

Rating: Great (93)


2 Responses to “Pink Floyd: The Wall (rewatch)”

  1. Did you get to see the Wall concert tour Waters just did? It was pretty incredible. It took the heart of the album and basically focused on the anti-war passion that runs throughout it, while never dropping the metaphors. The visual work on the wall was jaw-dropping. I ended up seeing it twice because it was so good.

    Also, I’m sure you know this, but the full version of Empty Spaces/What Shall We Do Now? is on Is There Anybody Out There, the live version they released. LOVE that combo, enough that I tend to prefer the live version to the studio, blasphemous though that might be.

    • I did not see Waters… I don’t think he came near me, and besides, too expensive! I’ve heard nothing but great things about the tour, though. I did see the Waters-less PF in the late 80’s.

      Yes, I do have that live album. Nice to have a recording of What Shall We Do Now.

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