Pink Floyd

The Wall

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) No
Year Released 1982 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Gerald Scarfe (Animation Director) and Roger Waters (Writer/Composer)
Running Time 95:10 minutes Other Extras Documentary - The Other Side Of The Wall (25:44)
Documentary - Retrospective: A Look Back At The Wall (42:58)
Deleted Scene - Hey You (4:34)
Menu Audio and Animation
Music Video - The Wall (3:13)
Production Stills
Technical System Set Up
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (62:28)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4,5 Director Alan Parker
Sony Music Entertainment
Starring Bob Geldof
Christine Hargreaves
James Laurenson
Eleanor David
Kevin McKeon
Bob Hoskins
Case Amaray style
RRP $34.95 Music Roger Waters
David Gilmour

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
English (Linear PCM 2.0, 1536Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
Song Lyrics
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Okay, so what exactly is The Wall? People have been asking that question since the film was released in 1982, and possibly since the album of the same name was released in 1977. And despite the questions, the answer remains as much an enigma today as it did those years ago. Personally the damn film remains a frustrating enigma to me, hence the reason that I return to it after so long a break. I do not proclaim to understand it, but certain insights dawn upon me on occasions. Perhaps this was not one of those occasions however. One thing of which I am sure, this is not the film of the album and nor is the album the soundtrack of the film. They are two very different pieces of creative art and both stand on their own merits. The album ranks amongst the best of rock music of the seventies and a highlight in the generally excellent discography of Pink Floyd. The film certainly ranks amongst the most original efforts of the eighties.

    Broadly speaking an autobiographical film based upon the life of Roger Waters, this is the story of Pink (Bob Geldof as the older, Kevin McKeon as the younger), a young boy failing to come to terms of the death of his father during the war whilst still an infant. Finding it difficult to come to terms with the lack of a father in his life, and as the result of some over-mothering, Pink grows up to be something of a maladjusted adult who becomes a rock star. In what appears to be typical fashion for such people, Pink over-indulges in alcohol and drugs and slowly withdraws within himself to the exclusion of all, including his wife. In other words he builds The Wall, brick by brick, and slowly withers behind it.

    The enigma that it is, the synopsis could be completely off the wall (sorry about the pun) but then again the film can be so many different things to so many different people. But whatever it is, it remains a memorable film, for many reasons. The animation by Gerald Scarfe is some of the most amazing that you are ever likely to see, blending magnificently with the live action segments of the film. Some of the segueing between the two forms is utterly sublime and the imagery that is invoked is stunning. I doubt that anyone who has watched the "horrors of war" segment will ever truly forget the poignant imagery of the futility of war. And the "flowers" is so riddled with sexual power that it sometimes surprises that the famed BBFC managed to let the film through with only a 15 rating. How much of the film is derived from Alan Parker is difficult to say, but there is no doubt that his realization of the words of Roger Waters is visually different, surreal at times, sublime at others, frightening too often. To many, the film is optimized by the fascist basis of some of the dream, but this is not really a celebration of fascism as many think but a damnation of fascism in its extreme. Director of photography, Peter Bizou, excelled himself in the way this film was realized, with some especially effective simple use of light. Bringing the whole thing together is the stunning music of Roger Waters and the rest of Pink Floyd, and the complete absence of any core dialogue to the film.

    The film itself may be something of an enigma, but the quality of the film is undoubted. Whatever your reaction to the film, this is a film that you should indulge in at least once.

Transfer Quality


    The back cover proudly proclaims that this is a new Hi Definition film transfer from the original widescreen interpositive. That might account for why this is such a stunning transfer. And somewhat unusually for DVDs from Sony Music, this is NOT an NTSC transfer but rather a PAL transfer.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    Okay, we are talking an actual film that is bordering on twenty years old so we have to make allowances right? Wrong. I have seen five year old films that look worse than this. That mastering from the original interpositive shows in just about every aspect of this gem of a transfer. It is further helped by being anamorphically filmed, so what we end up with onscreen is an uncommonly good transfer that is sharp and well defined throughout. Although of course there are a few intended sequences which are not supposed to be sharp, the only time that this starts to show its age in any way is during some of the darker scenes (both literally and figuratively). Suffice to say, any lapses in the transfer are more than likely deliberately intended. This is a quite clear transfer and there are no real problems at all with low level noise in the transfer.

  The style of the film does in general mitigate against strong, vibrant colours and what is on offer is generally quite a drabbish palette of colours. However, when the opportunity arises, this positively shines with vibrancy and clarity in the colours and damn nearly puts to shame almost every DVD in my collection. Even in the drab scenes on offer, there is a sharpness to the colours on offer that is quite amazing for a film of this age. Obviously, there is little or no chance of having oversaturation problems here.

   Having gone to the trouble of making a master from the original interpositive, it is pleasing to see that some effort has gone into the compression of the data itself. I doubt that you will find an MPEG artefact lurking in this transfer: after two straight viewings, I am damn sure that I did not. The only real problem at all with the video transfer is in the form of some extremely minor film-to-video artefacts, most notably (but not really noticeable) minor aliasing. It is almost churlish to mention it given the general quality on offer here, but it is all that really denies this reference quality status. And as for film artefacts, forget it. I think there were a few, mainly minor flecks, but nothing that I would call remotely distracting and this is a stunningly clean transfer for a film of its age. Perhaps some of the people responsible for some of the far more recent artefact heavens that we have been blessed with should sit down and take a look at what we should expect from every DVD transfer in this regard.

  Those same people should also perhaps look at the fact that despite the reasonably standard 90 odd minute length of the film, the transfer has been blessed with an RSDL format disc. The layer change comes at 62:28 and whilst it is noticeable, it is not at all disruptive to the flow of the film.


   The video transfer is of Hall of Fame quality in my view, and therefore it is a pity that there are a couple of minor problems with the audio transfer that deny it the same status.

   There are three audio tracks on the DVD: an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an English Linear PCM Stereo soundtrack and an English Audio Commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. I listened to all three soundtracks.

   It is somewhat difficult to discuss the dialogue here as that is one of the notable features about the film: there is no real dialogue. The entire narrative is really in the music and any dialogue that is audible is entirely superfluous to the film. The music is always clear and easy to understand though.

   There are no audio sync problems with the transfer.

   The original musical contribution comes from Roger Waters and the rest of Pink Floyd, predominantly David Gilmour. Whilst much of the music was re-recorded for the film and does not bear direct correlation to the album of the same name, the basics are very much the same and this is the entire raison d'être for the film. Superb stuff indeed, and a highlight in the generally distinguished Pink Floyd legacy.

   And so what is the fault of the soundtrack that denies it reference standard? Quite simply, a couple of rather disturbing bouts of overly excessive bass reverb, most notably whenever the keyboards were used in the music. Okay, I know I am excessively bass sensitive, and this may not bother many, but this really detracts from what is otherwise a quite superb soundtrack. At times quite ethereal, at other times quite aggressive, this is a seriously good soundtrack in all other respects. Whilst there is not the ultimate demonstration of surround usage here, that is simply a fact of life with a soundtrack that is so heavily based upon the music. If only that bass reverb was not there - this would have been a certainty for the Hall of Fame.


    And to continue the excellence displayed elsewhere in the package, we have a suitably stunning extras package that was way beyond what I was expecting.


    Brilliantly themed to the film with some quite apt audio and animation enhancement, about the only thing that would detract here is the fact that the "push and go" brigade will be displeased with having to endure the entire animation sequence before being able to do anything. The menus are 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical trailer (1:52)

    Not the best quality and with some technical deficiencies, but nonetheless an interesting inclusion. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Documentary - The Other Side Of The Wall (25:44)

    Obviously filmed around the same time as the film was released, this is definitely showing its age badly and is technically quite poor in standard. But ignore that for it is an interesting look at the making of the film from the perspective of those involved at the time. It is presented in a Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. An essential inclusion in the package.

Documentary - Retrospective: A Look Back At The Wall (42:58)

    Actually presented in two parts, this was made in 1998 or 1999 and is mainly interviews with the major creative minds involved in the production. An interesting counterpoint to the earlier effort made, if only because it provides a perspective on the film on the basis of twenty years of hindsight - always a wondrous thing! Technically of much better quality, there is not much to complain about here. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Definitely a big plus to the package.

Deleted Scene - Hey You (4:34)

    As mentioned in the documentary, this scene was cut from the film on the insistence of Roger Waters (it was felt that it would lose the audience at that point of the film) although parts of the video were reused in another scene. Nonetheless, it is nice to see the full scene and music included here, even if the quality is pretty poor! It would seem that this was resurrected from a crumpled file at the bottom of a waste bin in the editing room judging by some of the flaws. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, and despite the flaws is a very welcome addition to the package.


    A collection of 40 drawings and the like from the film, providing a marginally interesting look at the making of the film, but the lack of annotation makes the value dubious at best.

Music Video - The Wall (3:13)

    Man, I have not seen this for so long it is not funny. Just to see it again is all that needs to be said about the value of it in the package. Thanks. Oh, it is presented in a Full Frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Production Stills

    A collection of 25 stills from the film's production, but again the lack of annotation makes the value dubious at best.

Technical System Set Up

    Okay, having gone to some trouble with the DVD itself, obviously Sony want to make sure you get the best from the DVD by ensuring that your system is set up correctly. I am almost tempted to dismiss this on gimmick grounds alone, but it does serve some purpose and therefore is an interesting inclusion, the closest to which I have previously seen is the inclusion of a test pattern on Criterion Collection DVDs.

Audio Commentary - Gerald Scarfe (Animation Director) and Roger Waters (Writer/Composer)

    Okay, so I have no time for these in general, but there is a good reason why it has been kept to last. I found this to be boring beyond belief even by my low standards. At times it reached nadirs beyond even my experience with these things. Blessed with extended silence, in general both gentlemen have limited recollection of what went into some of the film and at times I found myself almost wishing to blurt out an audible reminder to get them moving again. This should have been a highlight but ended up being anything but. Maybe you will find more of interest than I did.

R4 vs R1

    This would appear to be identical to the version available in Region 1.


    This is so close to Hall of Fame status it is not funny. I urge you to get a hold of this DVD. You will not see better for an almost twenty year old film and it is an enigmatic effort that rewards viewing.

    A superb video transfer, bordering on reference quality.

    A superb audio transfer, hampered by a bad bass reverb problem at times.

    A superb extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
13th March 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL