Roger Waters: The Wall

November 17, 2017
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For those of you who don’t know, Roger Waters was the head of the popular rock group Pink Floyd. However, after many great albums such as 1973's “Dark Side Of The Moon", 1975's "Wish You Were Here" (which Waters barely made on) , 1977's "Animals", and (of course) 1979's "The Wall", as well as many arguments, hateful words, and Richard Wright's departure, Waters decided to dissolve the entire band after one last (appropriately named) album, 1983’s "The Final Cut" (which is really more of a Waters solo album than a unified Floyd project). However, little more than four years later, Pink Floyd released another album. Without Roger Waters. You can probably guess his reaction. Fast forward many years of lawsuits, hatred, spite, yelling, and utter loathing for the other side (look at the respective covers of David Gilmour’s (Waters’ mellower counterpart) album “About Face” and Waters’ “Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking” and you’ll see what I mean), and Roger Waters was making lots of albums on his own just fine. Meanwhile, David Gilmour, Richard Wright (who managed to pull himself together), and Nick Mason (the post-Waters Floyd) were also making albums on their own just fine as well. Both groups were still shooting daggers at each other for a really long time (even escalating to the point where merchandise at Roger Waters concerts were T-shirts boldly displaying “Which One’s Pink?”), and it wasn’t until 2005’s Live 8 concert that the whole group (sans an early member named Syd Barrett who had some serious drug problems) FINALLY managed to perform together without killing each other. Unfortunately, it would be the last time the whole group could do that, because although everyone had made peace with each other by then, Richard Wright died the next year due to cancer. From there, the Wright and Waters-less Floyd (which was just Gilmour and Mason) recorded one more album together in 2014 before officially dissolving Pink Floyd once and for all while Waters is still out there being as bitter and spiteful as ever.

If you’re wondering what all of this (or any of this, for that matter) has to do with the 2015 film “Roger Waters: The Wall” (which is the subject of this review), the answer is easy. It simply doesn’t. Really. If you’re scratching your head right now because you don’t know why the past member of such an important rock group wouldn’t acknowledge his past, it’s probably because he didn’t want to. I mean, if I had such a long and bitter past, filled with fighting and anger, I might not want to talk about it that much either. But still, all the film is an overlong Roger Waters concert of him performing the entirety of Pink Floyd’s album (not Roger Waters’ album, as he might like you to believe), “The Wall”. And when he’s not performing on stage, he’s crying his heart out in front of his father’s grave. I mean, yes, it must be very hard to lose your father in WWII (as Waters (and his father) did), especially when you’re just 5 months old, but still, that doesn’t mean you get to moan about it for a third of the movie. Plus, while you’re at it, why not also talk about your experiences with a past band that you viciously broke up with? If I were him, I certainly would’ve at least acknowledged that “The Wall” was Pink Floyd’s album, not my album. But instead of actually providing some useful Floydian history, the director (and Waters) chose to focus on Waters choking back tears about his father’s death instead. OK, while I will say (again) that it must be very hard to not have your dad by your side throughout your childhood, he can’t be sad about it forever. After all, it’s not like Roger Waters is going to be separated from his dad forever either (they’ll meet again in heaven one day).

Anyway, as far as the actual concert goes, well, I’ll say this: it’s certainly done very well. If nothing else, I’ll give Roger Waters that. He really did a very good job setting everything up, especially the wall that slowly rises up in front of Waters, only to be torn down at the very end. And although Waters’ voice certainly has that distinctive bitterness in it, that is also done very well, too. Plus, it’s not always that bitter, either. However, the thing is, since Waters was now Floyd-less, he had to have a zillion supporting musicians including former Floyd tour manager “Snowy” White and even his son with him, yet when the Floyd’s first Waters-less album, 1987’s “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason”, came out, Waters’ main criticism of the album focused on the large amount of supporting musicians on the album. Kind of ironic, don’t you think? And another thing is, instead of focusing on the traditional Wall story (world-weary rock star builds a protective wall around him, each brick signifying one of his demons (overprotective, suffocating mother; harsh, strict teacher; nagging, unfaithful wife), until he tears it down in a show-stopping moment), and instead focuses on all these activists who were killed for preaching their views, even going so far as to simulate on of their deaths on a train (and then promptly displaying that person’s name). I mean, I think Waters is trying to send a good message, but how photos of dead activists have to do with a story of an alienated rock star is beyond me. Anyway, while Roger Waters certainly did a very good job setting this thing up (and performing it), and the film DOES give you the sense of being in a live Roger Waters concert without actually going to one (although that Wall concert would tour the world, selling out every single performance along the way, until it’s grand September 21, 2013 finale in Paris), unless you like Pink Floyd (or Roger Waters, for that matter), you might end up being really bored.






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