Sunday, November 19, 2006

Behind Pink Floyd's Wall

Yesterday we happened to stray into a branch of HMV. I wasn't intending to buy anything, in fact I was adamant that I wouldn't. I just went in to keep Hunchermuncher company and to have a look. But of course the down side to window shopping is that it puts temptation in your way and I was tempted. So tempted in fact that half an hour later I emerged from the shop feeling somewhat sheepish and clutching a bag containing two DVDs; Westway to the World - a documentary about the Clash and The Wall (the 1982 Pink Floyd film). I had to buy them they were absolute bargains The Wall very rarely sells for less than £19 and there was a special edition version on sale for a measly £10.

So last night we watched the Wall. I first saw The Wall when it came out in 1982. In fact I saw it twice (possibly three times) and on both occasions I had to pretend to be older because it was an 18 and I was only 16. Watching it now I can see how of its time it is as a piece of art. Although it has a kind of story running through it (about a pop star called Pink Floyd who is having a braekdown) it also has many cultural references to what was going on it Britain at the time - riots, the National Front, hedonism etc. It also draws parallels with the second world war and flicks between the present, the war, Pink's childhood memories and the weird visions that Pink is having during his depression. Somwhere along the line reality becomes blurred and towards the end of the film it becomes difficult for the viewer to know whether what is happening is real or a dream. Add to this Pink Floyd's highly evocative music and it's enough to blow your mind.

Well almost. It didn't quite this time but I could see why it did on the massive cinema screen in the eighties. At the time the imagery must have been seen as being controversial and shocking. What I did find interesting is that the films rating has been downgraded to a 15, although after watching it I can see why it was an 18. Some of the images are very disturbing - especially some of Gerald Scarfe's animation sequences. It left me wondering who makes the decision to downgrade an age rating. I think I would have left it at an 18. Are we now so hardened to violent and disturbing imagery that kids can now see films that we weren't allowed to view until we were adults?

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