Pink Floyd: Live in Pompeii (1972)

Genres - Music  |   Sub-Genres - Concerts, Music History, Vocal Music  |   Run Time - 60 min.  |   Countries - Belgium, Germany, France, Greece  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This 1972 documentary captures Pink Floyd right on the brink of its most successful period and acts as an arty, unique time capsule from this period. The heart of Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii is stunning live footage shot in a crumbling arena, along with a few bits done in a French studio. Director Adrian Maben does a solid job capturing the music's ever-shifting moods and experimental edge via a combination of sleek, mobile camerawork and precise editing. His insert footage -- bubbling mud baths, blue-screen footage imposing the band over the ruins -- is often self-consciously arty, but this approach actually works as a nice compliment to the ambitious soundscapes. Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii is available in two versions: The original theatrical version focuses strictly on the music and delivers an hour's worth of concert material, while the director's cut adds some visual effects to the beginning and end. Most of this stuff has a negligible impact on the finished product, but functions as decent eye candy to further enhance the music. The real appeal of the director's cut lies in its other major addition: extensive footage of the band shot by Maben while they were recording Dark Side of the Moon. This footage, a combination of interviews and fly-on-the-wall observational material, is always amusing and sometimes quite revealing about the band's relationships and individual personalities. In the end, the appeal of Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii will depend on the viewer's interest in the group (and their tolerance for '70s-style artiness), but either version of the film is a must for anyone with a serious interest in Pink Floyd.