Friday, March 12, 2010

Obscured By Clouds (soundtrack)

Obscured By Clouds  40:25
Studio recording 23-29 February, 32-27 March 1972 
* Released 3 June 1972

Produced by Pink Floyd
Recorded at the Chateau d'Herouville, France

UK: Harvest SHSP 4020
US: Harvest ST 11078 Reached #46 on US charts

Nick Mason: "I thought it was a sensational LP, actually."

The film begins with a pan over the beautiful mountains and valleys of the island of New Guinea, just north of Australia (Obscured by Clouds). Then we cut to a New Guinean shop near the Australian outback, where an attractive and wealthy French ambassador's wife, Vivian (Bulle Ogier), is looking to buy the rare bird feathers which fetch such a handsome price in Paris. She is disappointed that the shop has none, but then meets Olivier (Jean-Pierre Kalfon), who has arrived to sell some feathers of his own. Vivian accidentally drops an ornamental dagger on Olivier's foot, wounding him. Mortified, she accompanies him to the hospital and then back to his camp, where he invites her to look at more of his feathers. She accepts his invitation, and visits his tent (Burning Bridges). Olivier explains that he and his friend Gaetan (Michael Gothard) mount expeditions to the largely unexplored mountainous area of Papua New Guinea, where he bought the feathers from a missionary. The next expedition will be to a valley wrapped in mist, marked on all maps as 'obscured by clouds,' but which, a philosophical Gaetan hopes, may turn out to be paradise.

Vivian dines with the tiny but adventurous group, and asks to see Olivier's feathers one more time before she goes home (The Gold it's in the...). Back at his tent, Olivier seduces her (Wot's... Uh the Deal). Vivian decides to accompany the 5-person expedition, hoping to find rare and valuable feathers, especially from the bird-of-paradise. They drive by jeep into the heart of New Guinea (Childhood's End). Along the way, they visit a gathering of native tribes, before reaching the house of the missionary in the temperate, forested mountains. The missionary has no feathers, but he sends Vivian and Olivier to a local native magician, who gives feathers to people he loves. Vivian makes a good impression (Mudmen), and she receives a bizarre vision, as well as some feathers. Later that night, the group drinks an alcoholic/psychedelic mixture used by the natives, and become one with the forest. Vivian, especially, feels a powerful and beautiful identification with every tree, leaf, and even snake.

A week later, Vivian hires a plane to take her home while the others proceed on to the valley obscured by clouds, but changes her mind and decides to continue on with the group. Soon, the terrain gets too mountainous, and they must abandon their jeep in favor of horses (Free Four). After a time, they reach the village of the Mapuga tribe, where they stay for a while, enjoying feasts, ritualistic dancing and face painting. Gaetan believes they must wait until their minds have become 'open' enough before completing the last leg of the journey. The group bonds with the tribe, getting back to the primitive roots that all humanity share. At last Gaetan thinks they are ready, and the group struggle on, abandoning the horses for the grueling climb up one of the highest mountains on the island. Just when they have run out of food and water and are literally dropping from exhaustion, Vivian crests the last ridge, whispering 'The valley. The valley. I can see it.' The sun breaks through the clouds, revealing their destination (Obscured by Clouds), from which they may never return.

Film Details
Une production Les Films du Losange
La Vallée
Film de Barbet Schroeder
Avec: Bulle Ogier, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Michael Gothard, Valérie Lagrange, et la Tribu de Mapuga et ses chefs
Images (photography): Nestor Almendros
Producteurs exécutifs: Michel Chanderli, Stephane Tehalgadjieff
Musique composée et interprétée par 'Pink Floyd': David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Richard Wright
Scenario original: Barbet Schroeder
Adaptation et dialogues: Paul Gegauff et Barbet Schroeder

Obscured by Clouds
When You're In
Burning Bridges
Gold it's in the..., The
Wot's... Uh the Deal
Childhood's End
Free Four
Absolutely Curtains

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