“Roger Waters: The Wall”, which had its world premiere on Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival, documents the massive concerts that included pyrotechnics, animation, a flying inflatable pig and an actual wall constructed on stage as the show progressed.
But it also includes vignettes of Waters visiting war cemeteries and memorials in Europe, including the grave of a grandfather who died in World War One, and the site of the 1944 battle that killed his father when Waters was just a baby.
The concert itself featured projections on its set of veterans, activists and average people who died in wars, protests and attacks on civilians.
Waters said a major theme of the original album is the need to challenge politicians who seem increasingly willing to resort to the use of violence.
“It’s a question that’s not being asked of our leaders often enough. If this film asks that question, at least in part, then it would be good,” Waters told Reuters on the red carpet ahead of the premiere.
“It’s a protest movie. It’s an anti-war, protest movie.”
The film received a standing ovation after a screening packed with fans. The audience also sang an impromptu “Happy Birthday” when Waters, who turned 71 on Saturday, took to the stage.
The 1979 double album has an unusual Canadian link. It was partly set in motion when Waters spat at a disruptive fan at a 1977 Montreal concert. Appalled by what he’d done, he came up with a concept for a record based on his desire to wall himself off from the audience and wider world.
The hugely successful album was followed by a Pink Floyd concert tour in 1980-1981 that also included major stage sets and special effects. Waters wrote a 1982 film directed by Alan Parker that combined live action and animation, before leaving the band a few years after.
“The Wall Live” kicked off in Toronto in 2010 and ran to 2013. It became one of the top grossing concert tours of all time as it grew to more than 200 shows in Europe, North and South America and Australia.
Waters said he had welcomed the opportunity to spread the album’s core message that politicians and citizens must work to overcome the divisions fueling the wars we see today.
“It’s very easy for people to say … that will never happen, because they are this, and they are that. And you can’t talk to them,” he told Reuters.
“They just lived in a different part of the globe and are educated differently. And they need education the same way that we do so that we can cross the great divide that we might call the wall.” (Reuters)