Roger Waters The Wall Review

I have seen the writing on the wall!

 “I have become comfortably numb”

– David Gilmore, The Wall, Comfortably Numb

Pink Floyd originally released The Wall in 1979, it was a concept album about a fictional man named Floyd Pinkerton or “Pink”. The album deals with trauma such as abandonment and isolation (thus the name The Wall). Pink was an amalgamation of Roger Waters and original Pink Floyd singer Syd Barrett, His father killed in the 2nd World war, the bullying he received from teachers and students at school and his overbearing and overprotective mother to becoming a rock star and closing himself off from the world are all relevant to Waters and Barrett. The Wall was turned into a film in 1982. Roger Waters The Wall is not a remake or adaptation but an immersive concert experience.

Live concert films are nothing new but Roger Waters The Wall manages to create an atmosphere unlike any concert film I have ever watched. Part concert film and part documentary Roger Waters The Wall seamlessly drifts between colossal stadium shows and footage of Roger traveling across France and Italy to visit memorials to his Grandfather and Father, both of whom were killed in combat in the 1st and 2nd world wars respectively.


At first the portions of the film following Roger about on his journey are more than a little irksome. The first piece of footage showing him packing a car and driving to the memorial in France went on for a little too long and by the time re reaches the memorial we have already been watching for almost 10 minutes. What follows is absolutely awe inspiring and was made more special by the almost silent opening. Roger pulls out a trumpet and plays to the empty memorial the opening bars to “In the Flesh (part 1)” as the camera flows around him. Suddenly a large bomber plane sours overhead and we are instantly transported to the stadium with a explosion of fireworks the song switches into full gear and what follows is a phenomenal performance of The Wall in it’s entirety.

While the concert goes on a wall is built brick by brick on stage enveloping the band and becoming part of the show. A spectacular light and digital image show transforms the wall into a giant screen with the images tailored to wrap around whatever state the wall is in at any given moment and to which song is being played. The performance of comfortably numb is one of the most moving pieces of film I have watched in a long time, drifting from stage to crowd and watching as the crowd sings along with the chorus it was hard to sit in the cinema without wanting to stand and shout along with them.


Putting the emphasis on Waters trip as much as they do the film runs the risk of having someone onscreen who isn’t an actor but is still going through staged or at least semi staged moments of emotion. Which at times can come off as disingenuous, Waters reading of a poem at a grave side seems very forced and just a little cringe worthy in it’s heavy handedness.

Some would describe the film as a little egocentric and they would be right, it’s very egocentric, I would go as far as to say egomaniacal in places, this is Roger Waters’ film and it’s all about him. But this should come as no surprise since to Pink Floyd fans as The Wall, Roger Waters and his ego have all gone hand in hand for three decades now.

A standout moment for me was the acoustic “Mother” in which roger waters plays a duet with himself from 1980 on one of the earliest tours for the wall. It’s such a simple idea but watching as a young 20 something Waters glides across the stage in a towering projection singing along with the present day Waters is very special indeed.

Waters tearing down the wall

Waters tearing down the wall

In large letters and images racing across the wall we are told about the terrors of war and the distrust we should have for the government. The imagery is incredibly evocative and a reminder that music can in fact by incredibly moving and at the same time incredibly important. The fact that the majority of the crowd were as young if not younger than myself, is testament to the fact that The Wall is just as important and impactful on lives today as it was when it was first released 36 years ago.

Building to a crescendo of music, lights and images; the wall is demolished at the last moment in a satisfying and strangely exhilarating moment where the band step out from behind the wall for the first time since the opening song and play the final song “outside the wall”. Finally we go back to Roger, this time stood by a memorial in Italy for his father playing the outro that like the album comes full circle and back to the beginning.


Genre: Concert/Documentary

Age Rating: 12A

Runtime: 131 Mins

So what do you think? Have a think and let us know in the comments section below.

-Dan P





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