About the Wall - Gerald Scarfe


Roger's idea appealed to me at once. I've worked quite a bit in opera and the theatre, so the sheer scale of that theatrical device immediately engaged me. The story also seemed to make obvious sense. It's about Roger, but that didn't trouble me since one of its virtues is that it is capable of a wider interpretation. I took it as a story about every man. Besides, I'm old enough to remember the war and in visiting that aspect of Roger's past I was also re-visiting a part of my own. My favourite piece from The Wall is 'Goodbye Blue Sky', which is a lyrical, poetic piece in which the drawings - the dove exploding into the German eagle which in turn changes into a kind of warlord - evolved very much from my own memories and feelings.

In many ways I regarded Roger as a kindred spirit. We seemed to share the same healthy, amused cynicism. He was also extremely respectful of my work. He remarked to me once that when you employ an artist to work for you you don't tell him what to do. You employ him precisely because you approve of his vision and because you have faith in it. Roger aided and abetted and encouraged me, but he never disagreed with what I was doing. It was wonderful, really, because he let me loose which is the only way I like to work.

To some extent I think I started off with Pink Floyd on the wrong foot, artistically speaking. I was initially very affected by what they'd done musically and I began drawing very abstract images rather than specific things or characters. Somewhere along the line I realised that what they required of me was the satirical drawing I do all the time. When I came to animate 'The Trial' (the first piece I did for the show) I decided to draw cartoons and animate those, but I stumbled across another problem. By that time I'd drawn all the initial designs and was largely directly my own crew of animators. The difficulty was that people found it very hard to draw in my style: most of them had been greatly influenced by the Tom & Jerry / Disney school of animation. The practical result was that no matter how ferocious my characters were they generally wound up with cuddly little eyes, or with rabbits bounding around at their feet.

After 'The Trial' I thought I'd try something different again: I decided to animate 'real' drawings. That's when the flowers came in. They were very careful drawings, not cartoons. I imagined them growing up, making love and fighting, and we joined all of that to another piece during which the wall grew across the whole landscape.

It was a long project. Sometimes it's difficult to sustain interest over so many months, but in this case I managed it. With live shows there's always the audience reaction to gee you up every night. I remember the whole period as a lot of fun. Those were the great days of rock 'n' roll, with all the accountrements, and, of course, it was impossible not to be carried along.

It's also very satisfying to have been involved in what has subsequently become a classic. When I was travelling with Disney (I was Art Director on Hercules) I gave a dozen interviews in the Far East and nobody knew who the hell I was until I mentioned Pink Floyd. Then they'd screech with delight, 'Ah, Pink Floyd, The Warrl!'. It still is a world-wide phenomenon.


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