A Technicolor Dream (2008)

UK, 90 min

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A Technicolor Dream is a documentary film chronicling the development of London’s counter-culture underground of the 1960s, and the events which led up to the 14-hour “Technicolor Dream”, a benefit concert for what was at the time England’s largest underground newspaper — the International Times (or I.T.).

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The concert has long since gone on to legendary status in the history of London’s 1960s underground movement. More important to modern-day students of that era, however, is the involvement of Pink Floyd. At the time, the Floyd were the unofficial “house band” of London’s underground. Although then-bandleader Syd Barrett’s mental health was already on a fast road to deterioration, they were also the main attraction at the legendary gig that was the 14-hour Technicolor Dream.

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So, in many ways, this film is as much Pink Floyd’s story (at least in their early formative years) as it is a chronology of that singular event.

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Through interviews with key players — including Pink Floyd members Roger Waters and Nick Mason, as well as key scenesters like Barry Miles and John “Hoppy” Hopkins — A Technicolor Dream recalls the formative years of London’s fledgling underground.

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The film follows events as the movement grew from a couple hundred like-minded “freaks”, to a force which the British government itself would eventually view as a threat — in many ways mirroring what was happening in American cities like New York, L.A., and especially San Francisco at the same time.

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As Barry Miles organized a massive London “beat summit” at the Royal Albert Hall featuring poets like Allen Ginsberg, and “Hoppy” Hopkins was publishing the earliest issues of the International Times, a group called the Pink Floyd, led by an iconoclastic genius named Syd Barrett — known for things like running steel ball bearings across the strings of his guitar — were also making a name for themselves in the underground.

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So when Hopkins underground paper the I.T. was eventually raided by the London cops — ostensibly because of publishing “obscene” material — it made perfect sense for the media voice of London’s artistic and political underground to team up with the band providing its soundtrack — Pink Floyd.

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Pink Floyd was already garnering attention with their wildly experimental “multi-media” shows at the UFO club, providing financial support for I.T., while at the same time developing a reputation for themselves as musical innovators. So it was only natural when Hopkins turned to Pink Floyd to headline the Technicolor Dream, where by all accounts they played to a packed house of stoned attendees, including John Lennon, as the sun came up behind them through stained glass windows.

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Most interesting to Pink Floyd fans are the remarkably candid interviews with Floyd’s Waters and Mason, which shed new light on Barrett’s rapidly eroding mental condition, even as the band went from that legendary gig to the sessions for it’s debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

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For anyone interested in the early history of Pink Floyd, or in learning more about the incendiary times this film so vividly captures, A Technicolor Dream is a must see.

— the above all quoted, i think, from a certain “tangopete”. it IS an enjoyable, endearingly patchy little documentary,  though it should be noted that serious floyd fans will likely have seen most of the footage already.

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