Remembering the life of the visionary director, gone at 76
The weekend kicked off to a sad start for movie fans when Alan Parker, the renowned filmmaker whose output includes Bugsy Malone, Mississippi Burning and Evita, passed away at age 76.
He has won 10 Academy Awards and 19 British Academy Film Awards. But what cements Parker’s legacy in the hearts of movie fans all over the world is how much modern music has anchored his greatest works on celluloid.
These five classics showcase the magic of when sound and vision aligned perfectly through the lens of Sir Alan Parker.
Midnight Express (1978)
I first heard Giorgio Moroder’s synth-tacular theme for Midnight Express when it was used as the entrance music for the legendary wrestling tag team The Midnight Express, comprised of “Loverboy” Dennis Condrey, “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton and their tennis racket wielding manager James T. Cornette. I gotta be real with you all; I’ve never sat through the actual Alan Parker film. I will one day, tho! But speaking purely as a fan of pro wrestling, when Corny, Condrey and Eaton came down the aisle in those early days to the actual theme from the movie, there was nothing cooler going down at 6:05 PM on a Tuesday evening, daddy!
VIDEO: Giorgio Moroder “Midnight Express”
The New York High School for the Performing Arts remains such a critical institution for American secondary education, despite the impact COVID-19 has had on the educational system in NYC. And the realism in Parker’s ecstatic, dramatic depiction of both the school and its colorful students lights up the sky like a flame thanks to star Irene Cara’s uplifting hosanna that had a whole city block dancing with joy.
VIDEO: Irene Cara “Fame”
VIDEO: Bruno’s father starts dance party on 46th St., Fame (1980)
Pink Floyd The Wall (1982)
Bob Geldof is so fucking magnificent as the embodiment of Pink, a caricature loosely based on this heady amalgamation of Syd Barrett and Roger Waters in Alan Parker’s psychedelic masterpiece based on Pink Floyd’s 1979 magnum opus The Wall. I personally haven’t watched this movie, which I have seen countless times since I was 8, since President Trump took his oath of office. But watching that “In The Flesh” scene after experiencing three years of bloodthirsty MAGA rallies will send a shiver straight down your spinal cord.
VIDEO: Pink Floyd “In The Flesh” scene from The Wall (1982)
Matthew Modine preceded his definitive role as Joker in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket with his brilliant and unsung portrayal of the titular character in Alan Parker’s follow-up to Pink Floyd: The Wall. As the PTSD-scarred Birdy, he closes himself off from the outside world to reimagine himself as an actual bird. And it’s the atmospheric, synth-heavy film score by Peter Gabriel that gives Modine a perfect accompaniment to his dive into this oceanic character.
AUDIO: Peter Gabriel Birdy (full album)
The Commitments (1991)
It’s the teetering balance of romance and bluster that makes this endearing story about a soul band from Northern Dublin making their way on the Irish pub circuit perhaps Parker’s most beloved film. Of course the showstopper of The Commitments is its golden throated hooligan frontman Andrew Strong. But its been a thrill as a fan of this movie to witness the evolution of the quiet heart of this fictitious ensemble, guitarist Glen Hansard, rise to near Bono-esque levels of Irish rock deity nearly 30 years since its theatrical release.
VIDEO: The Commitments perform “Midnight Hour”