Conceived by the French director Adrian Maben as "an anti-Woodstock film," Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii
was shot in October 1971 in the ancient city's vacant, 2,000-year-old amphitheatre--a venue chosen to accentuate the grandeur and spaciousness of the band's Meddle
-era music. This disc contains a new, 90-minute director's cut as well as the original 60-minute concert film, whose production and effects feel inescapably dated. Maben's cut goes to great lengths to lend the film a more contemporary feel, but it's the earlier version that makes this disc such a gem, being more focused on the music and more holistic in vision.
The anamorphic, 16:9 director's cut interweaves the Pompeii performances with fascinating but distracting interviews and music snippets filmed later (mostly during the recording of Dark Side of the Moon). The movie was originally prepared in a 4:3 aspect ratio, however, and the widescreen version crops perfectly framed images like the nine-square mosaic of drummer Nick Mason in "One of These Days". The original offers plenty of close-ups of fingers on frets and keys, with shots that are often luxuriously long in duration. And the picture quality from Pompeii is revelatory: outstandingly sharp and clear, rich in subtle grades of light and colour.
Generous extras include everything from original posters, reviews, bootleg album covers and song lyrics, to a 24-minute interview with Maben. But for all the director's talk of the glorious acoustics in Pompeii's amphitheatre, there's little natural ambience to be heard. The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is clear, dry and two-dimensional, though notably better than any previous video release. --Michael Mikesell