Watch Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut, A 19 Minute Music Video for Their Last Album With Roger Waters (1983)

The End­less Riv­er, Pink Floyd’s unex­pect­ed new album, dropped Fri­day, and unless we cred­it sly hints dropped by drum­mer Nick Mason, it’s like­ly the last we’ll ever hear from them. But one should always clar­i­fy, when speak­ing of the band, exact­ly which Pink Floyd is under dis­cus­sion. Is it Pink Floyd 1.0, with mad­cap singer/guitarist Syd Bar­rett at the helm? Pink Floyd 2.0—the most endur­ing combo—featuring Mason, Bar­rett replace­ment David Gilmour, bassist Roger Waters, and key­boardist Richard Wright? At anoth­er time, Wright was out of the pic­ture, then back in. After 1985, Waters, the band’s pri­ma­ry lyri­cist, and arguably most vision­ary mem­ber, was gone for good. They would nev­er again make music as soar­ing and ambitious—if also bombastic—as they did with his over­bear­ing pres­ence.

The title of the last album Waters record­ed with the band, 1983’s The Final Cut, pre­scient­ly announces itself as a coda for Floyd 2.0 (or 2.5? What­ev­er…). It also alludes to the band’s cin­e­mat­ic reach: whether scor­ing films, writ­ing them, or mak­ing records with the scope and breadth of epic movies. Floyd and film have always formed an organ­ic part­ner­ship. Before the quick fix of Youtube, they made fea­ture-length music videos that seemed to emerge ful­ly formed from nar­ra­tive and con­cept-rich records. The Final Cut, the album, ini­tial­ly intend­ed to be part of 1982’s rock opera The Wall, took on a life of its own when Waters re-con­ceived it as a protest against the Falk­lands War and Mar­garet Thatch­er, as well as a eulo­gy and vin­di­ca­tion for his ser­vice­man father who died in World War II. The Final Cut, the film (above—not to be con­fused with a 2004 sci-fi flick of the same name), is a nine­teen-minute piece that dra­ma­tizes four songs from the album: “The Gunner’s Dream,” “The Final Cut,” “Not Now John,” and “The Fletch­er Memo­r­i­al Home.”

The album itself brought the band to an impasse—pushing Waters’ increas­ing­ly per­son­al focus to such an extent that, writes All­mu­sic, it “pur­pose­ful­ly alien­ates all but the most ded­i­cat­ed lis­ten­er.” That may be so, but if one is will­ing to indulge it, it’s a very reward­ing lis­ten, “more like a nov­el than a record.” And it makes a fas­ci­nat­ing con­trast to The End­less Riv­er, “a suite of most­ly instru­men­tal moods and frag­ments” rem­i­nis­cent of the band’s film scores. Tak­en togeth­er, these two doc­u­ments show­case the endur­ing strengths of Pink Floyd proper—they were a band who excelled both at telling com­plex sto­ries and cre­at­ing deeply felt moods that are, like the title of The End­less Riv­er’s clos­ing track, “Loud­er than Words.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch the Rare Reunions of Pink Floyd: Con­certs from 2005, 2010 & 2011

Watch Doc­u­men­taries on the Mak­ing of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here

Pink Floyd Plays With Their Brand New Singer & Gui­tarist David Gilmour on French TV (1968)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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