Roger Waters: The Wall

A concert film that the former Pink Floyd singer-songwriter made on various tour dates between 2010 and 2013, when he was playing his former group's 1980 double-album in its entirety.


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  • ★★★★★ review by Wesley R. Ball on Letterboxd

    I'll try my best to make this an actual review and not a gushing high school personal experience essay, but I'm not making any promises at this point.

    Roger Waters The Wall is a profoundly moving musical cinematic experience unlike anything I've ever seen, and possibly will ever see again. It wasn't just the visuals and awesome rock opera selection that made me fall in love- it was the story of the man himself- Roger Waters, the auteur behind everything that is Pink Floyd The Wall. Most of the film is just concert footage, but interspersed between some of the songs we see Waters as he travels to his father's and grandfather's graves to pay his respects. Sometimes we see frequent Floyd collaborator Peter Medak traveling in the car with him, and they reminisce about the old days of tours, and their own personal experiences that influenced their own music. Sometimes, we see Waters with his three children, where they leave a memorable gift at the grave of Waters' grandfather, who died in WWI.

    But it's not just the backstory that had me moved to tears, but also the music itself. Cinematographer Brett Turnbull pans his cameras across the stage throughout many of the songs, but he's also unafraid to showcase the crowd in its entirety, whether through wide shots or in close-ups. It's in these close-up shots where I began to realize just how much The Wall had affected these fans. Their emotions and actions as the songs roared across the stadium were indicative of a natural emotion that ran constant throughout the entire crowd. Many different concert performances are fused together as the songs play, but each venue showed me the exact same proof: that The Wall is the single most important rock album of the 20th century.

    For one man to take so many years of self-torture and personal suffering and transform it into a beautifully operatic work of art is an astounding achievement. But what's more is that The Wall is still incredibly relevant to its modern audience. We all have our own personal walls that we have built up at various points in our lives, and it can become all too easy to stay sheltered and bottled up inside, especially in today's technology-driven society. For someone so socially anxious as myself, however, it can be even more difficult than I would have imagined.

    I used to be one of the most socially bubbling people you would have ever met. I would walk along happily and literally start a conversation with a random stranger. Talking to people was as easy as drinking water to me. As I grew up in Florida (literally 1,000 miles away from where I was born and where all of my family lived), I continued to be the ridiculously social butterfly that I was, and sometimes I would talk too much or be too excitable, and my parents would seem visibly upset with me. Not only that, but I was an exceptionally curious individual, consistently asking my dad the most miniscule questions. I slowly started to realize that perhaps dads didn't know absolutely everything, but I still persisted in my questions.

    Then, in 2006, we moved back up to Ohio. It was hard, but refreshing at the same time. I got to see my family a lot more now, and I would actually get to make some friends, since everyone at my old school seemed to love ignoring me or mocking me for the weirdest reasons (brain surgery, classical music preference, etc.) Unfortunately, it didn't seem too much better to me, as far as having friendships went, and the psychological torture only got worse as I got older. Perhaps it was all just inside my head, but I had some nagging feeling that I was some kind of freak for being so unusually polite to everyone. I don't hold grudges against people, and I don't get upset very easily at all. I didn't know why people were so aggressive towards each other (a byproduct of the high school I attended).

    So I shut up.

    Jump ahead to 2012. I've graduated high school and am on a fast track to college. College! The best years of your life, right? Except I'm so utterly terrified of speaking to anyone and ruining any chance of a friendship that I just stay in my dorm when I'm not in class. I can't even talk to this girl I'd been trying to at least initiate a coherent conversation with. I was fresh off the heels of a breakup with my high school girlfriend (which would happen two more times, with the same girl). What if she said no? What if she looked at me funny? Am I too hideous for her? I definitely am. I can't talk to her. What am I doing? This is stupid, she's just gonna break up with me three weeks later.

    So I shut everyone out.

    A year and a half back in the flaming pit that is Pensacola, Florida, and I couldn't take it anymore. I didn't want to spend my college years under a bedspread on my bed playing Skyrim until I fell asleep. There was nothing for me there, save for an aunt and uncle who I was convinced thought I was inconveniencing their lives. It didn't help matters that my ex went to the same college. So I said "Screw it." and went back home. Freedom, right? Sort of.

    Coming home has stuck me in a bit of a rut in my life, and it's been incredibly difficult to get out of. Paying for college is the biggest issue, really. But deep down, I have some innate fear that I will become more introverted than ever. Only time and actual experience will tell me what will happen at this point. My own fractured past has been indicative of a not-so-bright future, in my own mind.

    Why do I tell you all this useless information, you ask? The fact is, The Wall and this documentary could not have come at a better point in my life. Here is a man who blamed himself for his own father's death for so many years, and felt completely useless to society. He cast out all of his family and friends and built this metaphorical wall (literal in the concert) to shut out his own fear and anxiety from everyone around him. Then he overcame it.

    I saw myself as Waters.

    I had been building up my own wall throughout the years. All the emotional harm, all the psychological torture (not quite as extreme as Waters' own pain, however), every time I felt an inconvenience or useless or helpless- each time was another "brick." This wall has been blocking me away from having a normal and concentrated relationship with almost everyone in my personal life, and to think that it took Roger Waters and a rock opera to make me realize this. Watching this concert and hearing the incredibly intriguing backstory to Waters' own personal problems that influenced his undeniable masterpiece made me draw some comparisons between his personal life and my own. It was a shocking revelation to me. Who would have thought that a musical documentary would move me in such an unbelievable way?

    Roger Waters The Wall is a visually and aurally extraordinary experience. He incorporated some of the animated characters from the film through massive puppets that lurk across the stage during their respective songs. Some of the visuals are shown on a screen behind Waters, cleverly made to look like a white wall, in the style that can be seen on the original film's poster. Some parts are taken directly out of the film, and some segments were newly created exclusively for the concert, in the classic animation style present in the film. The whole spectacle had a feeling of authenticity that typically isn't present in live performances, and it surprised me how true the performance stayed to the original material. Combining the concert with a "road trip style" interview (a la Through the Never's side story) provided an emotionally charged insight into the traumatic history that inspired The Wall. Through his own dark history and phenomenal album, fans all over the world (myself included) have been inspired to a deeply personal level. This documentary perfectly captures his feelings and how they related to my own experiences throughout my life. Roger Waters The Wall truly is an inspiring story of love, life, loss, and ultimately inspiration.

  • ★★★★★ review by Wesley R. Ball on Letterboxd

    Original review.

    Unequivocally my favorite theatrical experience of 2015.

    Sorry, Star Wars.

  • ★★★★½ review by Jared on Letterboxd

    Part of 2015 Films Ranked

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.

    Roger Waters The Wall is an achievement. The film proves that art can indeed transcend the medium in powerful ways, both for the artist and the audience. As we see the grandiose, beautiful and awe-inspiring spectacle of the concert, it is ingeniously juxtaposed with heavy-handed but effective meditations on death and war in quiet European countrysides. Much like it's legendary source material, the film is a horrifying testament to the depravity of war, a literal labyrinth of madness in which Waters asserts individual expression, music, is the only escape. This message is largely conveyed through Water's obvious zest for life. As we see Waters perform on stage, it's evident he has not lost his fervor and zeal for his music, giving emotionally and physically involved performances to his legendarily forbidding lyrics throughout. When Comfortably Numb gets it's play, for instance, you won't find many scenes as emotionally charged as that in most of 2015's cinematic landscape. I was surprised by the depth of this film, not only by Water's fervent passion for his timeless message, but for his representation of how art can influence people in powerful ways. This is an important documentary/concert film, simultaneously serving as a testament to the power of music, and as a reminder of the ever growing societal wall of today, thriving off of the same systematic desensitization and civilian complacency Pink Floyd scrutinized over 35 years ago.

  • ★★★★½ review by Eric Pereira on Letterboxd

    A powerful concert film.

    Waters' performance of one of the greatest albums of all time looks and sounds phenomenal.

    Those short scenes in between songs with Waters talking about his life were also incredible.

  • ★★★★★ review by Daniel Araújo on Letterboxd

    A tune nao foi essa MAS FODA SE


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