In many ways, “Roger Waters: The Wall” represents part of what the original movie adaptation of the Pink Floyd double album “The Wall” was originally supposed to be. Instead of the fictionalized version of the story the album told, “Roger Waters: The Wall” focuses on the experience of the live concert (in this case, Waters’ more recent tour that ran from 2010 to 2013) – from the opening number that brings in the audience, to the wall being torn down before our very eyes. But more than that, “Roger Waters: The Wall” brings us a personal tale as we follow Waters on a road trip to the resting places of his grandfather and father, both victims of war. These two often seamlessly connecting sides to the wall create an emotional story mixed with some of the most memorable rock music of all time.
Arguably for many the draw of “Roger Waters: The Wall” is the live concert, which is a towering achievement – not only for its large sales records for a solo tour, but for the towering wall at its center. As in previous live shows, a wall is literally built on stage and eventually torn down as the band plays the iconic songs “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2),” “Hey You,” and “Comfortably Numb.” This tradition is enhanced with remastered versions of original animations, a stronger focus on the anti-war message of the original, and an ensemble band with talented new musicians to fill in for the original members.
In terms of the concert, I have no complaints. Waters is as good as he was in the days of Pink Floyd’s performances at Earls Court, even if his vocals seem a bit strained at times. The band also does an incredible job replicating the classic sound, with vocalist Robbie Wyckoff putting in a particularly noteworthy effort filling David Gilmour’s part. But what steals the concert is the production values. This is the most expansive version of “The Wall” thus far, and it is a sight to behold. From the detailed outfits of the Hammer soldiers to the redone visuals to the new additions, the performance has only gotten bigger and better with time.
But the concert makes up only half of the movie. The rest is a documentary following Waters on a highly personal road trip to Anzio, Italy, to visit the final resting place of his father, a victim of World War II, while making stops along the way that fill in more of the musician’s past. Although several of these scenes feel (and likely are) staged, it does not lessen their emotional impact. The scene where Waters reads a letter to his mother telling of his father’s death is one of the most heartfelt moments. Genuine sorrow, anger, and loneliness fill several scenes and add to the film’s emotional message. But the meaning of it all really gets hammered home when the scenes switch from the trip to the concert and back. It creates a great connection between the songs and events in Waters’ life, making it a great narrative device and creative angle.
What Waters and co-director Sean Evans have done with “Roger Waters: The Wall” is impressive. “The Wall” is an album that resonates as much today as it did in 1979, and the tour is more relatable now than it was in the 1980s. With the tour, Waters brought a personal story back into the hearts of many when it was most needed. With “Roger Waters: The Wall,” Waters and Evans have created the most personal version of “The Wall” to date. In other words, this one is Pink.
This film is rated R.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.