Roger Waters Discusses How ‘The Wall’ Has Evolved Over the Years: Exclusive Interview
On Sept. 29, Roger Waters The Wall will have a one-night only showing in movie theaters around the world. Part concert film and part personal journey, the film uses the famous Pink Floyd album he masterminded as a backdrop for putting a spotlight on the human cost of war.
However, that theme wasn't as apparent in its original incarnation, which dealt mostly with a rock musician's alienation between he and his fans and, ultimately, society. It's only been in recent years, as he's toured behind a mammoth production of the piece, which is seen in the film, that he's come to explore that idea in greater detail.
Waters sat down to speak with Ultimate Classic Rock about these changes, starting with the birth of the concept. "My memory is that after doing the Animals tour in 1977, and touring in 1975 and starting to work in stadiums I became very disenchanted with that." he tells us. "I felt very alienated from the audiences in many occasions doing shows. So one day I did, on the back of an envelope or a small piece of paper, draw that. I drew the wall, filling an arena or from one side of the stadium to the other. And I did eventually start saying to people, 'Hey, I've had an idea.' 'Yeah, what is it?' 'How about doing a rock show and building a wall across the front of the stage until the audience can't see us anymore or any of the show and preferably can't hear it either, and when it's finished - that's the end of the show?' [laughs] I have to say that people were clever enough to go, 'Well, [that] sounds good but finishing like that sounds a little harsh. [laughs]' 'Yeah, it would be.' 'Well, could we knock it down? Is there a moment of redemption at the end of it all?'"
However, it wasn't until Waters, who lost his grandfather in World War I and his father in World War II, saw the work Gerald Scarfe did for the film adaptation that he realized there was another story to be told. As he notes, "His animations pointed us towards memories of the second World War and how difficult that was for people being bombed and those of us that lost family members like I did during that conflict."
He decided to explore that in greater detail in 2012 when he created this new version, because it made more sense to draw attention to those issues, given the state of the world today. "I was determined that it should be less specifically about my predicament and my story and my journey," he says, "and more a general look at what it means to those of us who become victims to what seems to be an insatiable desire by those with the reigns of power in their hands to wage war on others to further whatever their aims might be."
"So it's very important that we don't get carried away in thinking we are the good guys and they inevitably are the bad guys, which is why it fits very neatly into the theatrical experience that is The Wall because it's very much to do with the fact that there are walls between us and others. But they're not necessarily helpful for either the others or for us. This is coming home to roost in even bigger ways now. Donald Trump wants to build a wall all the way from the Pacific Ocean all across the Gulf states. From sea to shining sea to keep out the evil ones who are trying to come in and get our jobs and will do whatever else they're supposed to be doing."
Tickets for “Roger Waters The Wall” are available at participating theater box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com.
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