Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Film Music of Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd have contributed some nifty music to a number of really quite good films in the late 60's and early 70's. In 1969, they recorded the score for Barbet Schroeder's film More. To summarise the film plot: German mathematics graduate is ruined thoroughly by the hedonistic lifestyle of sex, drugs, and rock n roll. ‘Tis the age old story. The soundtrack proved beneficial; not only did it pay well but, along with A Saucerful of Secrets, the material they created became part of their live shows for some time thereafter.
While composing the soundtrack for director Michelangelo Antonioni's film Zabriskie Point (1970), the band stayed at a luxury hotel in Rome for almost a month. Waters claimed that, without Antonioni's constant changes to the music, they would have completed the work in less than a week. Eventually he used only three of their recordings. One of the pieces turned down by Antonioni, called "The Violent Sequence", later became "Us and Them", included on 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon.

Zabriskie Plot Summary: Nihilistic youth drops out and seeks nullification in the desert, where he is met by a luscious open- legged vixen, where they form an unspoken pact to wage sweet anarchistic war on the world. Needless to say it all goes wrong. Played against a background of what appears to be the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) / Black Panthers student uprising, mentioned in this blog. Incidentally the stunning Kathleen Cleaver plays a cameo role in the political debate scene at the beginning of the film. The opening and end scenes are particularly affecting owing to the music:

In 1971, the band again worked with Schroeder on the film La Vallée, for which they released a soundtrack album called Obscured by Clouds. They composed the material in about a week at the Château d'Hérouville near Paris, and upon its release, it became Pink Floyd's first album to break into the top 50 on the US Billboard chart. Filmmaker Barbet Schroeder explores themes of sexual freedom, mind alteration, and pursuit of paradise against the backdrop of an early 70's encounter with the Mapuga rain forest tribe in upland New Guinea. The Valley, high in the Guinean mountains, is shown uncharted on maps as 'Obscured by Clouds' and is beyond their previous experiences. Considering the film was made in 1971, it is an amazing feat of documentation of the Papua New Guinean tribes, the eerie Mudmen, the "sing-sing" of the Asaro people, the Bird of Paradise feather craze, etc. which is portrayed so well in the Lost Tribes Documentary.

In researching the film music of Pink Floyd, I also discovered they did a soundtrack for a 1968 British independent Black-and-white film noir called The Committee. Not seen it yet, but I will watch it and maybe blog again. The opening bars seem to be more in line with their music from A Saucerful of Secrets.

By North Utsire

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