The evening’s crescent moon in the clear cold winter air reminded me of the line in Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon where the ‘Lunatic’ (actually Abbey Road’s Irish doorman) states, “There is no dark side in the moon, really. As a matter of fact, it’s all dark,” as the full outline of the moon could be seen despite only the crescent being lit. Other seemingly random news and events have reminded me of this album in its 40th Anniversary, from Monty Python’s reunion (Floyd members often took breaks during the album’s recording to watch the show) to a recent visit to the Mojave Desert north of Joshua Tree (very Floydian here, from the Integratron compound with its sound vortices and Wizard of Oz references to the villas in the rocky hills, reminiscent of the Antonioni film Zabriskie Point, for which Rick Wright had originally written DSOTM track “Us and Them”), and from the release of Tom Stoppard regarding his Radio Play Darkside.
Stoppard, in the news again this week for his announcement of engagement to former ’70s ‘It Girl’ heiress Sabrina Guiness, pulled out all the psychedelic stops with his production, taking Dark Side of the Moon’s deceptively simple theme (according to the credited lyricist Roger Waters, simply “things that make you mad”) and playing up seemingly random connections to the point that it all comes round to a unified whole, with much entertainment and intellectual humor in the process.
In that spirit, I recommend a viewing of Dark Side of the Sun, a 1988 Yugoslavian production initially shelved (and partially destroyed) by the Croatian War of Independence, and not released until 1997. It is primarily notable for the first leading role of Brad Pitt, but it is worthy of much more. Pitt plays a motorcycle-riding young man with a rare skin disease whom his family takes to Yugoslavia to visit a healer, and his character fits comfortably into his future roles of playing beautiful people with more than a hint of morbidity. The visual production, combined with the hallucinatory, dis-associated audio track, is the real attraction here. Stark yet idyllic Dalmatian Coast settings worthy of Floyd’s Live At Pompeii (1973, released shortly before DSOTM), Fellini-esque street performers and costume balls, and Pitt’s ‘everyday’ costume itself, a full-body-and-face covering of black leather worthy of John Phillip Law in Danger Diabolik (1968). There are also lots of KLR Kawasaki shots, and even a twisted “Tom Cruise in Top Gun” moment. I believe Stoppard, who also collaborated with J.G. Ballard on the first draft of the screenplay for what would become Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun (1987) around this time, would certainly appreciate the trippy coincidence, as would, perhaps, at least some of the Floyd gang (definitely Syd Barret).
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