Friday, September 23, 2011

Classic Albums: Pink Floyd - the Making of "The Dark Side of the Moon" - 2003

Dir. by Matthew Longfellow - 49 minutes

Part One

by Clayton Hollifield

I'm not the biggest Pink Floyd fan out there, but I don't mind listening to them every now and then.  So, coming from that perspective, there's not a ton here that would qualify as "must-see."  It's not bad, I certainly do enjoy watching music documentaries, and it's always interesting to watch musicians performing and dissecting their work.  However, this neither veers towards "Behind the Music" territory (any troubles that the band members may have had with one another is either ignored or referred to obliquely), nor does it really get heavily into the recording sessions.

This documentary consists of interviews with some of the band members, and relevant on-lookers (like Rolling Stone editor David Fricke and producer Alan Parsons).  As far as archival footage, there isn't much.  There are clips from a period live performance, and pretty much everything else is photographs with narration.  Particularly in a "making-of" documentary, it's helpful to have a rare or noteworthy piece of footage to use as a hook, but aside from a snippet of the demo version of "Money," I didn't notice anything that would qualify.  Another note - none of the people interviewed are ever on-screen at the same time.  It would have been much more interesting to see the band members discussing the album while whatever interpersonal dynamic exists plays out, instead we have reserved people calmly discussing things from their respective caves (several of the interviews are conducted over a mixing board in recording studios).

This documentary (the title is far too long to keep typing out, forgive my repetition) assumes a basic familiarity with the material (which is fair, considering the importance and popularity of the album), but also commits the fatal flaw of never going through a full version of any of the songs.  I can't stress enough how frustrating that is, it's like being forced to listen to a Girl Talk version of "Dark Side of the Moon" when all you really want to do is relax in whatever manner you're accustomed to, slip on some headphones, and dive into the album itself.

So, I'll end on some positives.  The whole time I was watching the movie, I really just couldn't wait to listen to "Dark Side" again.  It was interesting, if not definitive.  And I like to believe that Alan Parsons likes to get stoned, put on his frilly shirt, and go into the studio to listen to albums, separating the channels on a whim (as it appears he does here).  But there is one moment in the film that made it worthwhile.  While the story veers towards the importance and popularity of the album, David Gilmour wishes that he could have the experience of putting on "The Dark Side of the Moon" and listening to it for the first time with fresh ears.  It's an interesting take, as the band members are the only people who really can't ever have that eye-opening experience.  That's the cost of making a masterpiece, I guess.

3 / 5 - NF Streaming

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