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Home arrow Reviews arrow DVDs, Blurays, and Videos arrow The Body 1970 DVD (Roger Waters and Ron Geesin soundtrack)
The Body 1970 DVD (Roger Waters and Ron Geesin soundtrack) Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Saturday, 05 October 2013

The Body - DVD (2013)After many years, the Roger Waters and Ron Geesin soundtracked documentary The Body has finally arrived as an official DVD release, in the UK only at present, on October 7th, 2013.

Made in 1970, this remarkable study of the human body is neither scientific nor medical; it is, rather, a deeply intimate feature-length film exploring the physical experience of being human. Narrated by Vanessa Redgrave and Frank Finlay with a commentary by poet and playwright Adrian Mitchell, The Body traces the human life-cycle from conception to death. Photographic techniques never seen by cinema audiences at the time of release – including the use of internal cameras – allow an unprecedented insight into the body’s functions; these visuals are beautifully complemented by a soundtrack by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and pioneering composer Ron Geesin, incorporating the latter’s experiments in biomusic – in this case, sounds created by the human body itself.

The film - and the associated album release - features much music that will be of interest to Floyd fans, and has long been an overlooked gem. There's also an uncredited, full-band track included on the soundtrack and unavailable elsewhere. The Body is presented here uncut, in a brand-new transfer from the original film elements in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio. We've gone through the DVD in detail and our findings, and a discussion of the film (along with the trailer) are below.

They've done a great job with this documentary, which has been hard to find for many years, and it's great to hear Roger's and Ron's music in the context of the footage, again. You can order the PAL DVD direct from this direct link at Amazon UK and at Amazon Espana as an import.

From the start, with some elderly folk talking about drinking and smoking, whilst a baby suckles, the inclusive nature of this documentary is clear. Sea Shell and Stone quickly brings the first of the Geesin/Waters pieces, as accompaniment for the opening titles.

Some of the photography is very typical of the early 1970s. An early example is a pan over a reclining body, which the picture then dissolves into a landscape of similar shape. British factories and fashions share the screen-time early on - both dating it. The manufacturing industry in the UK is virtually dead, and the sort of production lines captured on film here (if they still exist) are chiefly automated now, with a much heavier focus on safety and the overall well-being of the staff. Here, their fatigue and boredom shines through. Alongside the footage, the explanatory dialogue is quaintly earnest, but underpinned by some great Geesin sonic noodlings.

There's the odd clumsy juxtaposition - such as bolting together an engine whilst a baby is born - but in a way, this is an amusing reminder of the vintage of the documentary.

There's a number of scenes which use, for the time, groundbreaking camerawork - slow motion, extreme close-up, thermal imaging, x-ray footage and internal cameras. For the first time, it gave the public a "layman's" guide to something that we all pretty much take for granted: our body.

With its focus on life from birth to the inevitable, via the monotonous slog of (in this case) manual labour, one wonders how much of The Body helped Roger (and the his Floyd colleagues) with the concept and refinement of The Dark Side of the Moon. The lady with a terminal illness talking about dying in her hospital bed has, in particular, a number of echoes to lyrics and spoken comments on the 1973 album.

Visually, it's the best I've ever seen this documentary presented. They've not cropped it (unlike the VHS which came out years back) so you get it in its full 1.66:1 format. Due to the nature of the footage and film stock, there are some scratches and other marks apparent, and some degree of slight judder or flicker, absolutely typical of film from 1970. Some scenes display grain, there's some slight soft focus here and there, and a slightly muted colour palette. However, these are minor gripes to get this cult classic, which many will never have had the opportunity to see, finally on an official DVD.

Turning to the sound, this comes across well. Some of the dialogue sounds a little compressed and slightly fuzzy, but this again seems entirely consistent with other documentary footage from the early 1970s. The music doesn't suffer though, and is presented nicely. It's great to hear the music, which appears regularly through the documentary, in context again, and there's hidden gems in there too. There's a sequence looking at the amount of food consumed, on average, over a lifetime, with a voice over by someone with a slight cockney accent. Listening closer, and one can hear a certain Mr Waters is the narrator of this scene!

For those who are keen to hear the music in isolation, though, the producers of the DVD have thoughtfully included it as a 38 minute "music suite" in the extras. The music is accompanied with kaleidoscopic imagery. Elsewhere in the extras, you get a theatrical trailer, and a brief picture gallery. On the disc is the original press pack as a PDF file for those who want to find out a lot more detail on the film, as set out by the film-makers at the time.

The Body is a film that makes for difficult viewing at times, giving as it does an unflinching and at times, very "matter of fact" approach to medical matters. It also takes an interesting look at some things, seeing through the eyes of their volunteers and their sense of curiosity. It's also very much a film "of it's time" with its dated look at life in Britain in 1970. Most Floyd fans will have (at the very least) heard of this film due to the music within, but not as many will have seen it. As stated above, hearing the Roger Waters and Ron Geesin material in context adds much to the viewing experience, and we are sure a number of you will want to add it to your collections. It's priced attractively (recommended retail is just under £10, and you should find it cheaper - not least, with Amazon) and is sure to be the best quality version of this you'll find.

At the moment, it is available to purchase through these direct links: Amazon UK and Amazon Espana.

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