Hey, Teachers! 'Pink Floyd: The Wall' Turns 40 | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

Hey, Teachers! ‘Pink Floyd: The Wall’ Turns 40 

The 1982 film version of Pink Floyd: The Wall can best be described as 90 minutes of interconnected weirdness, scored by one of the best rock albums of all time. 

Hey, Teachers! 'Pink Floyd: The Wall' Turns 40 | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

The film was released in the United States in August of 1992, 40 years ago this month, after it had premiered at the Cannes Film Festival the previous spring. The Wall album had arrived in 1979, so the music was pretty well-known by the time the film arrived three years later. 

Directed by Alan Parker and written by the band’s Roger Waters, the Wall movie is squarely in the rock opera tradition, which was in vogue for a brief time period from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. The Floyd film is mostly comprised of metaphorical, dialogue-free, occasionally animated storytelling that’s probably best experienced while stoned, not unlike those midnight Floyd laser-light shows they used to host at local planetariums. 

It’s the type of stuff that multiple generations of teenagers would get high, watch, and consider “deep,” but it’s best viewed today as bizarre images to watch while all-time great music plays. 

The film stars Bob Geldof as “Pink,” a tormented rock star who spends most of the film’s running time lamenting the wartime sacrifices, his mean teachers, and later his own unhappy marriage, and there are heavy hints of incipient political turmoil. It’s all built around a metaphorical “wall” built by the musician. 

The Wall’s Legacy

Pink Floyd: The Wall‘s reputation has waxed and waned over time. The creative people behind it famously fought endlessly, with the original plan calling for the band’s concert footage to be interspersed with animation by Gerald Scarfe, before the group pivoted to the film’s actual form, and got rid of the concert scenes altogether. When the film arrived it received mixed reviews and tepid box office interest. But over time it’s become a cult hit, especially among Floyd fans. 

Waters has, over the years, performed various versions of The Wall music live, separate from the rest of Pink Floyd, and there was even a concert documentary in 2015 called Roger Waters: The Wall:

The anniversary comes at a time when Floyd appears to have waned in terms of their place in the classic rock firmament. The band doesn’t get a great deal of classic rock radio airplay anymore. Pink Floyd, for the most part, no longer exists, although various combinations of the former members have occasionally reunited to play one-off reunion shows, such as at Live 8 in 2005. 

All the living members of the group are in their mid-to-late ’70s, and their last full-on album, 1994’s The Division Bell, was released nearly 30 years ago, and The Endless River, released ten years after that, mostly consisted of outtakes from the ’94 album. When Floyd “reunited” earlier this year for a Ukraine charity anthem, only David Gilmore and Nick Mason played on it. 

Pink Floyd: The Wall is not available on any streaming service, although it has been getting midnight movie showings in some areas this month – no laser light show included.

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