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review added: 1/31/00



Pink Floyd: The Wall
1982 (1999) - MGM (Columbia Music Video)

review by Frank Ortiz of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Pink Floyd: The Wall Film Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A-/A

Specs and Features

100 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:02:23, at the start of chapter 19), Amaray keep case packaging, commentary by Roger Waters and Gerald Scarfe, documentaries: Retrospective: Another Brick In The Wall Parts 1 & 2 and The Other Side Of The Wall, two deleted scenes, production photo gallery, animation artwork and drawing gallery, audio "set-up", theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with animation and sound, scene access (27 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 and PCM 2.0), subtitles: English, captioned English song lyrics, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned (dialogue only)


Are you ready to face The Wall? If think you are, be aware that this is truly an experience you should go into with an open mind. I recall the first time I started to get into Pink Floyd, and although I'm not the all-out fanboy like so many of my peers from college, I still have to tip my hat to the superb songwriter, Roger Waters. This is such a great collage of imagery, and its a wondrous representation of Waters' work viewed through the expert direction of Alan Parker and the brilliant animation and art direction of Gerald Scarfe. Ultimately, the level at which you might enjoy this film is dependent on your interest in the music. But the visual imagery and music combined are a tremendous accomplishment, best viewed on DVD.

The music in Pink Floyd: The Wall can penetrate the soul of a kindred spirit and more, but it's truly an artful mixture of sight and sound. Alan Parker, Roger Waters and Gerald Scarfe were the masterminds behind this amazing work, and the combination of their talents is a shining gift. Their story is impressively told through minimal use of dialogue, heavy poetic images and throbbing soulful music. Our focus is on Pink, a penultimate rock star who has created a wall within, emotionally separating himself from others and life. Vivid flashbacks show his internal struggles in dealing with all that life has brought. The sporadic animation visually depicts yet another level within him. Much of the emotion here is dark and graphic, but undoubtedly represents the content and scale of the band's original concept album and tour. This story may seem a bit depressing, but it's done in such a grand way that it's quite impressive.

When it comes to the video on this DVD, it looks really good. Keep in mind that there are some shots where grain was intentional, and you will see it present in a few areas. Don't worry - this disc looks great nonetheless. The hi-def transfer displays the restoration of the colors and contrast well, and looks way better than the previous video release. The anamorphic widescreen transfer on this disc makes the picture here even nicer, with just a bit of softness (mostly due to the age of the film).

Let's move on to the sound. I'm a sound guy, and I have to say that when it comes to sound, this disc just plain kicks butt. The remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 track is really good, with enough surround effects in action sequences to add good depth. The PCM 2.0 track is also a new mix from the original and it's very impressive. The two together are a perfect example of how well remixed audio (from older recorded material) can be done. Regardless of your audio preference, you will not be disappointed. And if you can't quite understand all the lyrics in the songs, then you can also have them listed in subtitles - a nice audio-related touch. Oddly though, you can't view the lyrics by using Closed Captioning, and I'm sure a group of you out there will be miffed by that.

Did I mention there's a truckload of extras? Well, let me say it again. There are a truckload of extras here. I've heard a couple of stories on how long this DVD was in production. But now that it's here, the disc comes loaded with enough goodies to make any wait worth it. The commentary by Waters and Scarfe is fascinating and full of information. The documentaries and featurettes give a slightly expanded view (above and beyond the commentary) and it's interesting to see these guys all these years later. We also get to see the work of a great many other contributors to the film - there's production and concept art, the stage show, animation and more. Throw in a music video directed by Scarfe and the Hey You deleted scene, and you have a well rounded representation of what it was like to shoot the film, and how the experience affected the lives of the major contributors today.

There's one other extra on this disc that I found to be quite neat: an audio systems set up. They call it a Technical Sound System Set Up Guide. What it does, is to run you through 5.1 speaker setup, to make sure everything in your sound system is working properly. There are two options for hearing audio through each channel - Pink Noise and Speaker I.D. (which is a female voice for each of the 5 speakers and 3 low beeps for the sub). I checked and double checked the sample sounds, and found them to work perfectly with my system. The guide also goes though speaker placement angles and how to calibrate your system by ear, or with the use of an SPL (Sound Pressure Level) meter. It's a nice added touch for the DVD of a film completely dependent on music.

It is easy to appreciate all the work put into this project. The film itself is outstanding, even for all its furor and raw nature. If you like any of this music, I can't recommend it enough. Even if you're just curious, I'd still say you should give it a spin. And have fun!

Frank Ortiz
fortiz@thedigitalbits.com




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