06 September 2015 (released)
06 September 2015
The very last shot of this concert film is of Roger Waters about to say something to one of his band mates as they leave the stage. As he goes to speak, the film cuts to the credits. In that one moment, the biggest frustration with this film is exemplified. During the almost two hour rockumentary/road trip, we get a touch of insight into the Waters' psyche, but not quite enough. It leaves you wanting more. Not necessarily in a good way, like those great gigs, but frustrated at not learning more about this complicated rock star.
The Wall was always the Pink Floyd album closest to his heart. Dominated by references to war, it tackles Waters’ own emotional turmoil at losing his father when he was just a baby, but also explores an implosion of a singer’s state of mind (partly sparked by a spitting incident involving a fan at a Pink Floyd show). The album is one of the band’s best, at times edgy and explosive, at others beautifully gentle. Waters’ live show is staggeringly impressive, with pyrotechnics and visuals that have everything including the kitchen sink.
Alongside this spectacle is the narrative road trip, where we see Waters driving across France, then Italy to see where his father died. Eric Waters died at Anzio in the Second World War and one scene in a French bar sees the singer explaining what happened during the battle. It’s one of a number of touching moments. We also discover that Waters' grandad died in the First World War, meaning two generations lost a father very young. It’s a stark reminder of the personal devastation of war.
The correlation between the family’s history and Waters’ anti-war campaigning is therefore clear to see here and that’s why it would have been interesting to learn more about the connection between his feelings and the writing itself. We see Waters and his children visiting a memorial for his grandad and a letter written to his mother from the army talking about his dad. But hearing from the family would’ve offered wider perspective. Instead there’s a strange moment on a mountain road, where Waters and an unnamed friend talk about a trip to Greece in their youth. Some on screen text, giving context to this would have helped.
Maybe this greater insight is not for this type of concert movie – more for a BBC4 style documentary. Instead perhaps you should enjoy this film for what it is – a visual spectacular of extraordinary expression. The Wall Live is being shown in cinemas as a concert film on Tuesday 29th September. There will also be an exclusive in-conversation with Roger Waters and Nick Mason, where the Pink Floyd rhythm section will reunite to answer questions sent in by fans. Tickets are on sale at www.rogerwatersthewall.com