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Home arrow Reviews arrow DVDs, Blurays, and Videos arrow Roger Waters - The Wall Live In Berlin
Roger Waters - The Wall Live In Berlin Print E-mail

Released 28 April 2003, Universal Music International, UK. Available from our Amazon Pink Floyd stores or via this special link.

Roger Waters The Wall Live In Berlin 1990 DVD

It's been a long time coming, and has sat with the likes of PULSE, Pompeii and Delicate Sound Of Thunder, as releases that have long been demanded on DVD, despite the original releases from this concert (video and audio) didn't sell as well as it was hoped. Finally, then, it has had its UK DVD release (with international releases following it through May and June 2003, in a staggered schedule).

A show of this magnitude (350,000 plus in the audience) deserves a huge, elaborate DVD. We will find out to what extent this has been achieved; digitally remastered, the new surround sound mix was supervised by Roger himself, to ensure that his vision was put across in the way he wanted it to.

Roger Waters The Wall Live In Berlin 1990 DVD - main menuUnusually for a mainstream music release such as this, there is no region coding on the disc - therefore, any DVD player worldwide should be able to play it (with the proviso that your equipment can handle a PAL, not NTSC picture). The opening menu sets the scene well. All the menus are extremely well done - a lovely, consistent design coupled with great music - re-recorded segments of music from The Wall, all in full surround sound, most of which are short with the exception of ABITW part 1 which lasts over four minutes.

The show starts with a nervous and overawed looking Scorpions and In The Flesh. What strikes you from the beginning is the stunning 5.1 surround mix. It really takes me back to that hot and dusty July day, thirteen years ago (thirteen years!!). It's a shame that there isn't a DTS soundtrack, but I guess it was excluded for reasons of space on the disc. Still, the 5.1 mix is certainly more than acceptable.

An intelligent use has been made of the rear/satellite speakers - a certain amount of audience noise is heard in them, giving a great feeling of being down the front, in prime position to catch the action. Often, on other concert films, the sound of the audience just sort of swirls around now and again, and there is no real sense of it being live. This happily isn't the experience with the Berlin DVD. Naturally, special effects such as the helicopter, come across well, and show off the rich soundstage created.

Roger Waters The Wall Live In Berlin 1990 DVD - start of the showThankfully, too, when you get to ABITW part 2, it sounds like Cyndi Lauper's vocal has been dropped down a bit in the mix - not so painful to listen to now. To be honest, I always found the choice of Lauper a little strange. By this stage of the DVD, the shortcomings of the picture quality seem to be less of an issue, or rather, you don't seem to notice so much. Presented in 4:3 format (ie standard TV screen format), it betrays its television camera origins. I was desperately hoping for a crisp, anamorphic widescreen picture. Instead, you have a picture, obviously taken from videotape, that could be a little sharper with a little less colour bleed in places. Fine detail gets lost - more noticeably on wide stage shots where you are trying to pick out individual musicians. Having said that, the picture is very acceptable, and many people will not be looking so critically at the picture, and not on the equipment we've used to review the title.

For those who have not seen the show, it was a pretty straight reading of The Wall, with a range of different artists taking on the roles of Roger's ex-colleagues: The Scorpions, Ute Lemper, Bryan Adams, Jerry Hall, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison and others. The only real change was the dropping of Outside The Wall in favour of The Tide Is Turning, which provides a climatic and uplifting finale following the fall of the wall on stage. Outside The Wall DOES appear, as a re-recording over the end titles. So it hasn't been completely forgotten!

The other aspect to a DVD such as this, are the extras. Initially it was believed that a commentary with Roger would be included on the disc. Sadly, this is absent. From hearing his illuminating and amusing commentary for the movie of The Wall, it was very regrettable that this was not included on this release. Roger's recollections on the problems of staging the show would have been fascinating.

Sadly, too, there is no facility for seeing the show as it ACTUALLY was performed. For those of us lucky enough to be there on the evening, there were one or two technical hitches, but these were edited out of the TV broadcast and subsequent video release, using footage from either the dress rehearsal, or from the rerun of parts of the show which was performed after midnight, once the crowds had dispursed. At the very least I was hoping that Roger's tapdancing would be included, maybe in the extra features!

Roger Waters The Wall Live In Berlin 1990 DVD - close-up on Rupert Everett as PinkOne of the things that IS on the disc, is some "unseen footage". This consists of just over six minutes of film - Pink as a boy, Pink as a man (with actor Rupert Everett as Pink), and some of Roger Waters in the helicopter. Some of this footage is accompanied by music; the rest just has the director's instructions. An interesting oddity, on the whole: this is footage shot for the concert but not used.

The "Animations" feature provides some slightly wobbly if crisp camerawork of Gerry Scarfe's creations, blended with original images and graffito from the Berlin Wall. With no music to accompany, it provides a curious six minutes. When it gets to the Trial sequence, footage of the Berlin Wall is no longer overlaid.

The "Stills gallery" is interesting if a little brief. Whilst I was hoping for behind the scenes and on stage production photos, what you actually get are twenty seven images - six general, black and white stage/concert sketches, eleven technical line drawings of the set and character designs, and ten full colour pictures that were used for the projections (mostly for the "fabulous room" sequence with Jerry Hall).

Finally, there is the thirty minute documentary. This starts with the events of World War II that eventually lead to the construction of the Berlin Wall, the effect the wall had on Berliners, and the events and emotions around the destruction of the wall in November 1989. This moves into interview segments with Roger Waters, Gerald Scarfe, Jonathan Park (stage designer) and Tony Hollingsworth (producer), talking of the initial plans to stage the show (originally in the Sahara Desert or Monument Valley) and the selection of the ideal site. Some fascinating discussion on this topic - including the mine sweeping and requests to leave some of the Berlin Wall standing to secure the backstage area!

The fascistic imagery used within the show is also discussed, along with the unusual casting choices, such as the Soviet Marching Band, through to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison. Rod Stewart is mentioned as initially under consideration for the Bryan Adams role, and Neil Young is also mentioned in the nicely illustrated booklet that accompanies the DVD. Finally, there is discussion of the power problems that blighted the start of the show, and how they managed to overcome them without the worldwide television audiences knowing! There is even a distant snippet of Roger tapdancing.

It is a shame, though, that the documentary is so short, or that other material that was aired or produced at the time (such as the new ABITW promo) has not been included on this disc. Dress or normal rehearsal footage would also have been interesting, as would, say, a montage of some of the TV news reports of the event.

Overall, then, a worthwhile purchase - apart from the fact that all proceeds go to charity - if you like Roger's take on The Wall. The extras add some value to the package, and the whole (despite the gripes over the concert's picture format and quality) provides a superb reminder of what many of us felt was a landmark show. It's a shame that there was not more in the way of extra features, but maybe they are holding back for a special edition in six months time, as seems the norm with other DVDs!

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