Pink Floyd: Reflections and Echoes aims to be the comprehensive documentary on the history of the band, covering its history from it’s very beginnings as a Psychedelic live band to their final performance at Live 8, and it mostly succeeds. However, some serious flaws in the presentation prevent the series from achieving greater heights.
The documentary devides The Floyd’s history into 4 parts. Part 1 covers the band’s formation as the “The Pink Floyd Blues Band” through the various changes in the bands lineup, to the album Ummagumma. Part 2 starts at the album Atom Heart Mother and the title track of the album, to their tribute album to fouding member Syd Barrett, Wish You Were Here. The 3rd installment covers Animals to The Final Cut, the period of the band’s history where Roger Waters was doing most of the composition work. The final installment covers Waters departure from the band, the fight over the rights of the name of the band, the band’s last two albums (A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell), followed by the reunion performance at Live 8.
The band’s history is presented through radio and television interviews with members of the band, original interviews with music critics and historians, as well as concert footage. The interviews are the high-point of the documentary. While there is no original interview content with members of the band, the director of the documentary did an excellent job collecting interview content that is relevant and really helps provide insight into the band’s music and into events surrounding the band. The interview content from the critics is also enlightening – explaining why certain albums (like The Final Cut) are not held as highly as other albums, as well as providing technical insight into recording of the songs as well (and, in one particular occurance, a musical breakdown of the guitar riff from “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)”. While the technical aspects of the documentary probably wouldn’t be anything new for actual musicians, I still find it interesting.
Unfortunately the documentary has several weak links. The biggest ones are related to the concert footage. First, the documentary is presented in a 16:9 Aspect Ratio, and by all appearances the critic interview footage is shot at that aspect ratio, pretty much. However, the video interview footage with band members is not, likewise with most of the concert footage. Rather then keeping the footage at the same aspect ratio, however, the directors basically ended up mangling all of the footage. Video footage from BBC Television is stretched to fit the aspect ratio. Concert footage from Live at Pompeii gets the top and bottom chopped off of it, and Pulse, Delicate Sound Of Thunder, and Live 8 is extremely washed out. The documentary also has some odd omissions. While Roger Waters solo career gets some coverage, particularly notably a comparison between his solo albums and The Floyd’s albums without him in the lineup, there is no mention whatsoever of Syd Barrett’s solo career, or even of his famous appearance during the band’s recording sessions for Wish You Were Here. Likewise, while the legal battle over the Pink Floyd name and the band’s iconography gets coverage, the events leading up to the lawsuit (such as the band’s “breakup”) gets more coverage. The performance footage is not complete – no complete songs here. There just isn’t anything new here. The documentary is comprehensive, but and the commentary by the critics is interesting, but if you’re generally familiar with the band’s history (such as from the various other documentaries on the band that this DVD uses for interview footage), then you won’t find many new juicy tidbits about the band that hadn’t seen before.
All in all, for casual fans of the band, there is a lot to ingest here, and in general they should find the documentary to be particularly comprehensive and enlightening. Die-Hard Floyd fans probably wouldn’t find a lot new, though they might learn of a few concert performances available on video that they might try hunting down on torrent or E-Bay. Newcomers to the band might also find the documentary of passing interest, and might find the documentary to be a good place to start their listening to the band, giving just enough to reccomend the DVD for at least a rental if you can find it at your local video rental chain, local library, or NetFlix (or whatever similar service that you favor), but unless you can’t find it any other way, or unless from my description you consider it to be worth a buy, I wouldn’t recommend a purchase.
Overall Rating: 7/10.
Get Pink Floyd – Reflections & Echoesat Amazon.com