If you’ve ever seen one of the documentaries from the excellent Classic Albums series, you know what to expect from Pink Floyd: The Story of Wish You Were Here, now available on Blu-ray. That’s a good thing because it’s a formula that works. Here we have key personnel offering their thoughts and recollections about the making of the classic 1975 album Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd’s follow-up to Dark Side of the Moon. Roger Waters, David Gilmour, and Nick Mason—the surviving band members—all sit for interviews, with archival interview footage of the band’s late keyboardist Richard Wright included as well.
Though hardcore Floyd fans are likely to find the story behind the album’s creation very familiar, it’s still a well-produced documentary. The memory of founding Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett is the major theme of the Wish You Were Here album, so naturally it remains the focus of this program. The band members share their memories of Barrett, who had been out of the band for many years at the point the album was recorded. Their mentally troubled former bandmate paid an unexpected visit during the final sessions for Wish You Were Here, though they didn’t even recognize him initially due to his significant weight gain and shaved head and eyebrows. Though he did not pass away until 2006, none of them ever saw him again. This final encounter is recalled during the program.
Other highlights include the album’s recording engineer Brian Humphries playing back specific instrumental and vocal tracks from the master tapes, allowing the viewer a chance to hear various elements isolated. Another great segment involves the song “Have a Cigar,” sung by neither Waters nor Gilmour, but rather their friend, singer-songwriter Roy Harper. Waters and Gilmour (interviewed separately, as they are for the entirety of the program) explain the circumstances that lead to this guest appearance. The iconic cover art (two men, one on fire, shaking hands) is detailed as well. Overall, the documentary does a great job of putting into context the dysfunction within the band during the sessions, clearly outlining the evolution of the project as songs were dropped and new ones brought in.
Eagle Rock Entertainment’s Blu-ray of Pink Floyd: The Story of Wish You Were Here boasts a 1080i transfer that looks totally fine for a program of this nature. Most of the documentary is comprised of static shots of people sitting while talking. The rest is archival footage, some of it very old, that is only going to look so good considering it wasn’t necessarily shot with posterity in mind. The interviews are sharp and match the standard of Eagle Rock’s other high definition documentary releases.
The audio is offered in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio as well as 2.0 LPCM Stereo. Again, given the sedate nature of this documentary, there isn’t much to praise but neither is there anything find fault with. The interviewees speech is clearly audible throughout. Surround activity is limited to the relatively brief music scenes, which sound tantalizingly rich. This is definitely a spoken word-dominated documentary, not a concert film, so don’t expect to be too dazzled by music simply because it makes up only a limited portion of the running time.
Speaking of running time, it’s listed on the Blu-ray package is 85 minutes, but keep in mind this includes the main film as well as the bonus features. While the documentary feels a little short at 60 minutes, the 25 minutes of extra interview footage (and a few brief music segments) really compensates for that. This extra footage plays almost like a second, albeit shorter, documentary and all the information is interesting and could’ve easily been used in the main film. Pink Floyd fans will be very pleased to have this material to accompany The Story of Wish You Were Here.