Pink Floyd Meddle: Island Echoes
My favorite album over the past several years has been Meddle from Pink Floyd, due to its mystique and the sheer power of its songs. “Echoes” started out as my favorite track and over the years I started filling in my interpretation of a plot for it using my imagination. Then I thought of the other amazing songs and eventually worked out a fluid plot for the entire album. I came to realize that an epic movie could be made for this album much as how a movie was produced for the Pink Floyd album The Wall. What I envision is an entirely animated video that seamlessly ties in every track to tell a story of heartbreak, perseverance, love, and growth. I picture an epic, melodramatic, dark but uplifting tale with a strong tendency to make people cry due to its power! I am fairly artistic and have thought of trying my hand at producing it for fun, but I don’t have the proper animation skill nor the time. For what I envision, a small or medium team of animators would be necessary.
Below is concept art I drew and a description of the story for each song (along with links to the song tracks).
One of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces
The movie opens playing “One of These Days” with a small yacht swaying on the open seas. In the yacht is a man and his pregnant wife, both living sometime in the 1800’s, nervous and scared of an approaching nighttime storm and the predicament they’re in. As the song picks up, so do the waves, tossing the boat around and rendering the inhabitants inside helpless. The lyrics “One of these days, I’m going to cut you into little pieces” brings a massive wave splashing over and tossing the yacht, as if an angry power from the heavens threw a punch. Each additional symbol crash brings more lightning and crippling waves. In the fade after the song crescendos at the end, the boat is hurdled toward the rocks and beach of an island, in one final violent blow. The mood of this scene is of helplessness and despair.
As the album segways into “A Pillow of Winds,” the violent night storm has been replaced with a calm pre-dawn glow. The scene pans over boat debris along the beach and finds the man and wife huddled under a tropical tree with a few gathered belongings and a candle flickering in front of them. The pace of this scene is a stark contrast to the preceding one. The man holds his wife who lies beside him, as he looks over the damage and contemplates the future of them and their unborn baby. He holds up a salvaged blank baby book, and drops it, coinciding with the lyrics of the song. Also coinciding with the lyrics, a sunrise breaks over the horizon, offering a glimpse of hope amongst all the devastation. The mood of this scene is sleepy and melancholy.
Sleepy time, and I lie
With my love by my side,
And she’s breathing low.
And as you rise above the fear-lines in his brow,
you look down, hearing the sound of faces in the crowd.
“Fearless” ushers in a new day and new hope. The scene opens with the man geared up to take a hike, leaving behind his wife. Synchronized with the lyrics, the wife holds her husband as if to prevent him from leaving. The man looks back at her and down at their unborn baby who is getting bigger. It will be born soon, and this hike is a risk to find help and/or resources to feed and take care of their new family. The wife understands and smiles, urging him to go. The man enters the forests and hills of the lush mountainous island, and to his relief, sees smoke from a valley. He rushes to bring back his wife, and then they both approach the source of the smoke in the next scene. They find themselves upon a native tribe, cautious, but bold. A tribesman approaches them wearing a stern and menacing expression, but coinciding with the lyrics, turns into a smile. A medicine man “wearing a crown” circles the pregnant wife, and leads her into the town. In the next scene the husband waits anxiously outside a hut while his wife is in labor. Finally, he gets to view the new “face among the crowd” of his newborn baby daughter whom a tribeswoman carries out of the hut. The final scene finds the new family and tribe joined in a bonfire celebration full of joyous song, coinciding with the chanting as the song fades out.
The next scene ushered in by “San Tropez” marks another change in tone as well as time. Four or five years have passed and the husband, wife and their daughter remain on the island, but with good fortune and high spirits. In this case “San Tropez” doesn’t refer to the actual location in France, but represents this unknown tropical oasis they encountered. This song summarizes their new low-key, care-free lifestyle living in a hut on the tropical island amongst the natives who accepted them into their community. The family partakes in simple luxuries, like “drinking champagne like a good tycoon” (from a coconut), and “digging for gold with a hoe in my hand” (by playing in the sand with the daughter), as well as many other little events that match the song. The husband “open[s] a book to take a look at the way things stand.” Referring to the baby book shown in an earlier song, he looks back on how events represented by the paintings he drew in the baby book didn’t turn out quite like they expected, but perhaps even better. Finally as the song fades out the family is seen frolicking down the beach into the sunset followed by an adopted island dog.
And you’re leading me down to the place by the sea
I hear your soft voice calling to me
“Saemus” is an interesting song. I picture a simple scene of the husband painting a family portrait in their new tropical home with a howling dog in the background out by the “kitchen” door. I see this mainly as a segway into the grand “Echoes” finale…
So I throw the windows wide
And call to you across the sky
“Echoes” is my favorite song (on the album and of all time) and deserves the grandest, artsiest, and most epic narrative. The animation would employ the most clever art design, tricks, and symbolism, and has inspired the best, most powerful scenes in my mind. This song introduces a theme of imagination. I have many great ideas for this song but will only mention a handful because it is such a long song!
The song “Saemus” segways into “Echoes” by zooming into the painting that the husband is making and then zooms out again to reveal the painting in a modern university art studio. A paintbrush rested on the base of the painting easel drips red paint into a cup/puddle of water below coinciding with the drips in the song (this will be symbolically tied to the drips later on). Then throughout the whole instrumental intro of the song, the animation will pan around the studio showing several completed canvases, each with a still scene from previous songs in the movie. At this point the viewer’s perspective starts to shift dramatically because this scene indicates that all the events from the previous songs were “imaginary” and just dreamt up by some yet-unknown artist in the studio.
Right before the first lyrics start, the animation zooms in on a painting of albatross flying above over the island. The painting takes up the whole screen and the albatross begin to animate in sync with the lyrics, giving the impression that we “jumped into” the painting. The next several lines coincide with panning over the island, zooming past wildlife and natural scenery. When the next set of lyrics start we are back in the art studio, where a young man (younger version of the fictional man from the earlier songs) attends an art class where he encounters a young woman (younger version of the fictional woman from the earlier songs) when “by chance two separate glances meet.” Then the man “[takes her] by the hand and [leads her] through the land” on a fantasy adventure as they step into the paintings.
A lot of story takes place during the upcoming large interlude until the next lyrics. The couple takes a dreamy walk through the island paradise and find themselves upon a waterfall. The first set of symbol crashes coincides with the two diving into a natural pool beneath. They swim gracefully among fish during the quickened melody and when the music slows they lumber back to land. As they engage in an intimate embrace the camera pans over to the next stars of the song: several piglets and their mother sow resting in a pasture.
During the extended rhythmic guitar session, the pigs suckle and waddle around and eventually are led on a walk by the mother into the forest. The light fades as night sets on, and the tone quickly darkens when feral beasts leap from the surrounding bushes and ambush the caravan. They attack the mother pig as the piglets scatter for cover. The sow stands no chance, as the beasts savagely kill and gorge upon her. When the predators have their fill they leave behind what remains of the sow and several squealing piglets: alone and vulnerable. Coinciding with the screeches from the song, the baby pigs cry out to their mother and the cruel sky above. Eventually rooks find the dead body and swoop in for their share. The pigs try to scare the birds away from the sacred remains but to no avail. As the piglets lose hope and drift off to sleep from exhaustion, the camera pans toward the pool, which slowly turns red from blood. Drips of water plummet from a spring in the adjacent cliff face into the bloodied water, connecting full-circle the image of the dripping red paint from the song intro.
As the drips and song start to speed up, the camera zooms out, to island and then sky and then to Earth and solar system-scale where the viewer is reminded of the tiny scale of life compared to that of the universe. The Earth still spins, and sun continues to burn. As the drips continue, the camera zooms back in as the revolution of the Earth ushers in a new day and a wall of morning sunlight that races across the sea. Scattered islands are brightened in explosions of light as the wall hits them, coinciding with the symbol crashes.
The wall of light hits the main fantasy island right as the music really crescendos. Trees unwilt and glow, the ravaged body of the sow becomes whole and her face becomes content and peaceful. The cold sleeping piglets gain warmth and open their eyes on a new day. As the light hits the scavenging rooks nearby they start to sizzle and attack one another. Then one by one they transform in a cloud of feathers into an albatross and fly away, all choreographed with the melody sequences. The fourth and last albatross flies overhead where the two humans lie asleep together and a feather drops onto the man’s cheek, ushering in the last set of lyrics.
Upon seeing the man awaken, the woman “[invites] and [entices] [him] to rise.” The man looks toward and “through the window in the wall,” an opening of light in the rock cliff face from which the two entered the world through the painting. The man “throws the windows wide,” allowing the albatross to soar through the opening. The camera then pans through the window and on the other side the viewer is now actually on the exterior of the art studio in the middle of the university, getting the appearance (and symbolizing) that the island is all contained within the studio. The man is seen holding the room window open and staring out. The bird then soars up and continues to fly past the land and coast and back out to sea away from the mainland, and back upon the island. The bird swoops in through the trees and landforms, and in the last fast-paced melody sequence flies beneath the tree canopy and encounters the baby pigs, running through the forest. The albatross joins them, flying above and part-way through the pigs morph into adults and start running faster. The pigs slow down as they reach the edge of the forest, and coinciding with the ghostly, spacey sounds at the end of the finale of the song, they witness the body of their deceased mother float up into the heavens. In the post-climax the pigs sniff around and investigate the site where their mother was taken, but are now grown-up, mature, and independent, and waddle off back into the woods. The two humans gaze around this paradise one last time and holding hands, they step back through the fantasy portal.