Bob Geldof is terrified of blood and found the razor blade scene extremely difficult to film. He was only supposed to shave his eyebrows. Feeling himself seized by the role, he improvised the scene and shaved his entire body. This scene was inspired by Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett (as was much of the album), who became mentally ill and left the band in the late-'60s. According to the band, Barrett once left a crowded dinner party, went home, shaved his head and went back acting as though it was the most normal thing in the world. Some of the people who were close to Syd during his decline had to leave the theater during the scene because they found it so disturbing.
According to Bob Geldof's autobiography, (which also mentions the Supergirl body mould), when filming the scene where the groupie starts sucking Pink's fingers (before he smashes up the room in "One of My Turns"), Jenny Wright couldn't get the scene right. She asked director Alan Parker what her motivation was for the scene, and he replied, "money". She got it right on the next take.
Director Alan Parker walked out on this project many times, probably due to an ego clash with Roger Waters. Waters was annoyed at Parker, who didn't like the way that he wanted to make it a cult film. Pink Floyd's next album "The Final Cut" contains the following lyrics (written by Waters): "Not now John, we've gotta get on with the film show: Hollywood waits at the end of the rainbow. Who cares what it's about, as long as the kids go? So not now John I've gotta get on with the show." Parker refers to this film as "the most expensive student film ever made."
The scene in which Pink is calling his home from the United States and is very depressed to hear a man's voice, was made by actually placing a call to England through a random, unsuspecting AT&T operator. The conversation was recorded and played over the filmed sequence.
Roger Waters originally conceived the Wall film as a starring vehicle for himself; his lackluster screen test led to the casting of, ironically, another musician with no prior acting experience, Bob Geldof.
The Wall tour (in support of the album) originally ran through 1980, in Los Angeles, New York, and Earl's Court (London) (the nature of the material, and the scale of the stage production, prohibited a large-scale tour). When the movie was green-lighted, Pink Floyd performed five more shows at Earl's Court, which were filmed with the intention of being incorporated into the movie but the resulting footage was deemed unsuitable for use. Over the years, numerous suggestions have been made that this footage could be used to make a concert film, but Roger Waters, who owns all rights to the footage, has been working on remastering the concerts off and on in recent years.
During "The Thin Ice", Pink (Bob Geldof) can be seen floating in a swimming pool. Geldof (who is infamous for his dislike of baths) couldn't swim, and instead was supported by a plastic body mold in similar manner to that used for the flying sequences in Superman (1978) (some reports claim that it's the one used in Supergirl (1984). This is confirmed in Nicholas Schaffner's 1991 book A Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey.
Scenes for the song "Hey You" were filmed, showing British police in riot gear facing off against a mob. During editing, Roger Waters and Alan Parker watched a rough cut of the film thus far. As they watched, they felt the film becoming more and more depressing, and on the spur of the moment decided that "Hey You" would be cut to both lighten the tone of the film and because it was running too long, in addition to its duplicating shots already used in other songs. The cut material was thought to be lost for some time, until a workprint (a rough cut used to build the edit before the original negatives are cut to match) was found to contain the "Hey You" segment, although only in black and white, heavily spliced, and with the editor's markings all over the film. In the DVD commentary, Roger Waters and Alan Parker explain that most of the footage from "Hey You" still exists in the original negatives because it was used in various scenes throughout the rest of the movie, as do several other out-takes and deleted shots (including one of Pink in the soldiers' hospital throwing things at the walls and windows, and some animated shots from "The Wall" show). In addition, at least one shot from "Hey You" that does not appear elsewhere in the film was used in the original theatrical trailer.
The poetry that young Pink was caught with during "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" is a combination of the first and second verses of "Money", off Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". Far from being "absolute rubbish", this album stayed longer on the Billboard chart than any other album: more than 700 weeks.
The lyrics sung by Pink as he huddled in the bathroom stall later resurfaced in the songs "Your Possible Pasts" on Pink Floyd's follow-up album "The Final Cut" and "5:11 AM (The Moment of Clarity)" on Waters' first solo album "The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking." Waters had originally offered the other members of Pink Floyd the concepts for "The Wall" and "Hitch Hiking." They chose "The Wall."
"The Final Cut" was originally planned to be a soundtrack of the film. A single with "When the Tigers Broke Free" and "Bring the Boys Back Home" was released in the UK, stating that these songs were taken from the forthcoming album.
During the crowd devotion scenes there was going to be a shot of members of the audience's heads exploding as they wildly cheered, loving every minute of it. Waters decided that it could not be accomplished without making it comic.
Song changes from album: - When the Tigers Broke Free - added - In the Flesh? - extended/re-recorded - The Thin Ice - extended/re-mixed - Another Brick in the Wall 1 - unchanged - The Happiest Days of Our Lives - re-mixed - Another Brick in the Wall 2 - re-mixed - Mother - re-recorded/lyrics changed - Goodbye Blue Sky - re-mixed - Empty Spaces - deleted, in favor of: - What Shall We Do Now? - added - Young Lust - unchanged - One of My Turns - unchanged - Don't Leave Me Now - changed - Another Brick in the Wall 3- re-recorded - Goodbye Cruel World - unchanged - Hey You - not included - Nobody Home - unchanged - Is There Anybody Out There? - classical guitar re-recorded - Vera - unchanged - Bring the Boys Back Home - extended - Comfortably Numb - bass line different from album - The Show Must Go On - not included - In the Flesh - re-recorded - Run Like Hell - shortened - Waiting for the Worms - shortened - Stop - re-recorded - The Trial - unchanged - Outside the Wall - re-recorded
The song, "What Shall We Do Now?" was originally written and recorded for the Wall album, but cut for time constraints in favor of "Empty Spaces" (which is a shorter rewrite of the first half of WSWDN). This was included in the original lyric notes from the album because the change was made just prior to the final edit. It was used on the Wall live tour in 1980-81.
The music heard playing during the opening credits is "The Little Boy that Santa Forgot" performed by Vera Lynn. Notably, the song is about a fatherless boy. Featured on the album, the song "Vera" is referring to another classic by Vera Lynn called "We'll meet again." Its lyrics include: "We'll meet again, / Don't know where, Don't know when, / But I know / We'll meet again / Some sunny day."
The Pink Floyd song performed by Pink in the movie ("In The Flesh?" at the start, and "In the Flesh" at the concert/rally) was actually sung by Bob Geldof. This was done to the dismay of Roger Waters, who felt Geldof's voice was too distinctly Irish.
In his autobiography "Is That It?", Bob Geldof tells the story of how he was first told about the project by his agent while riding in a taxi, and how he didn't want to do it because he didn't like the music of Pink Floyd. Roger Waters knows this story, not because he read it in Geldof's book, but because the taxi driver was actually Roger Waters' brother.
Roger Waters took the plaque from the church of the men killed in Anzio, Italy as a keep sake, while Art Director Gerald Scarfe took the lamps from Pink's hotel room, because he thought they would look nice in his house.
Despite the line "Soundtrack available on Columbia Records and Tapes" in the credits (on UK prints of the movie and subsequent VHS editions this reads "Soundtrack available on Harvest Records and Tapes", Harvest Records being the band's long time British record label) no (official) soundtrack ever surfaced, because the soundtrack would have been very similar to the Wall album. In fact, the song "When The Tigers Broke Free" was unavailable on a (non-bootleg) Pink Floyd album until the Echoes compilation was issued in 2001. Instead, additional material which would have been included on the proposed soundtrack album was released in 1983 as a new album, "The Final Cut". In 2003, a special CD edition of this album was released which included "When The Tigers Broke Free". One rumored title for the album was "Spare Bricks."
Many of the extras in the "Run Like Hell" and "Waiting For The Worms" sequences were actual neo-Nazis cast for realism. Gerald Scarfe became frightened that things were getting out of control when, on one day during filming, several of them showed up with the double-hammer insignia shaved into the sides of their heads. Later, a fascist group did spring up in the late-80s dubbed the 'Hammerskins' with this logo as their insignia, much to the dismay of Scarfe, Parker, and Waters, whose intentions were to make the portrayal anti-fascist.
In the scene where Pink is arranging the contents of his smashed up room there are several shots of a B&W photo showing a guy in a raincoat. This is Johnnie Fingers - the keyboard player in the Boomtown Rats, Bob Geldof's band.
The concert sounds you hear at the beginning of the the bathroom scene, is the actual intro done during the tour of "The Wall". This very intro and 'monologue' is heard on the album "Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live" released in 2000.
A few animated shots were Gerald Scarfe's designs for earlier Pink Floyd concerts, including the dog biting meat off a fish hook from the "Animals" tour (this can be seen twice very briefly in the "Waiting for the Worms" sequence), and the "leaf-man" animation from "Wish You Were Here" (which is seen in "The Trial" sequence).
Bob Geldof managed to cut open his hand badly during the scene in which his character destroys his hotel room. To the astonishment of the crew, Geldof refused medical attention until director Alan Parker had the scene wrapped up.
On the commentary track on the DVD, the last thing Roger Waters says in the commentary is "Isn't this where we came in" just slightly before the very end of the end credits. The album, unlike the film, is bookended by the selection "Outside the Wall" with the last few notes of that song played in the beginning of the first selection of the album, "In the Flesh?". What is interesting is that if you repeat the album on a loop (easier done these days with a mp3 version of the album played on a media player), the last three words heard in the album, which are "Isn't this where", are merged with the first three words heard in the album, which are "We came in" to form the sentence "Isn't this where we came in".
Alan Parker was originally only going to produce the film, with Michael Seresin directing the live-action segments, and Gerald Scarfe directing the animated segments. The two were not able to come up with a cohesive vision for the project, and Parker took Seresin's place as director.
Out of the 27 songs in the film, "In the Flesh? (part one)", "Another Brick in the Wall, pt. 2", "Bring the Boys Back Home", "In the Flesh (part two)", "Waiting for the Worms", "Stop" and "The Trial" are the only 7 songs that are sung by Pink and/or other characters onscreen.