Pink Floyd Live At Pompeii (1971)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/21/13
Cast: David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Richard Wright

"Live At Pompeii" is an hour-long film featuring Pink Floyd playing in an empty amphitheater in the ruins of Pompeii. However, it's not a continuous performance, and each song uses a different set-up and time of day, so it's more like a collection of live music videos. There are also some random shots of the band and the surrounding area inserted into the performance, along with some stock footage and front projection shots that were filmed later in Paris. The band was still transitioning from being experimental and psychedelic, and while the sound quality is superb, the tracks themselves contain a considerable amount of unstructured noisemaking, which quickly becomes tiresome. Similarly, the visual quality is excellent, but the cinematography is poor. The only member who gets any coverage is Nick Mason, and the film uses a lot of extreme close-ups which are dull and uninteresting. I really don't care what everyone's hands look like up close. There is also a noticeable amount of continuity errors and recycled footage.

It's difficult to be objective about the film, because concert movies were relatively new and filmmakers were still trying to figure out how to make them. The equipment was also a lot heavier and more difficult to operate, so following the action and making rapid movements and adjustments wasn't physically possible. That said, there are a handful of really beautiful tracking shots in the film, and it's a shame they didn't get more coverage using that set-up. More than anything, the film exists as a novelty and a chance to see Pink Floyd when they were really young and right on the cusp of super stardom.