Eagle Rock Entertainment
All Access Rating: B+
Predicting what the erratic Barrett would do by then was an exercise in futility, his mind scrambled from taking too much acid. In 2001, a documentary titled "The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story," which included Shirley's observations, examined Barrett's sad decline through a somewhat stodgy, if well-arranged and professionally edited, mosaic of vintage video snippets, performance clips and promotional videos, and poignant, candid interviews with those who knew him best.
Now reissued by Eagle Rock Entertainment as a two-disc DVD set with complete, unedited Q&A sessions with Roger Waters, Nick Mason, David Gilmour and Richard Wright and Graham Coxon's bonus cover of "Love You," off The Madcap Laughs, this version of "The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story" fleshes out what was already a well-rounded, in-depth portrait of an artist whose mind was set adrift long before he shuffled off this mortal coil.
Told chronologically, it's a concise and insightful look at the rise of Pink Floyd as inspired psychedelic-rock oddballs, these experimental delinquents led by a cult figure in Barrett, whose ability to make the mundane seem strangely magical led to wonderfully mad musical creations that set the band on an artful journey of imagination and wonder. Barrett, though, would only travel so far with them.
Amid the expected gushing tributes, the sense of loss and wasted talent, and the behind-the-scenes peek into Barrett's life beyond the Floyd, "The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story" – Barrett would surely balk at such a pedestrian title, as well as the film's bland narration – is a focused examination of his impact on the band and popular music in general. A kindred spirit, Robyn Hitchcock, admires his genius from afar, offering his personal thesis on why Barrett still matters. There's also a detailed analysis of the song "Bike," so blissfully strange and childlike and yet crazed in its manic musique concrete episode, from Pink Floyd's psychedelic masterpiece Piper at the Gates of Dawn, that gazes at the Barrett's idiosyncratic artistry and shakes its head at its audacity. Fading remembrances, both happy and still troubled by his disintegration, flow like rivers of colorful paint from witnesses of Barrett's bedraggled character, his unique vision and his growing detachment, which led to a hermit-like existence and self-imposed musical exile until his death.
At the end, there's still emptiness. What remains is a wide gap in our understanding of how Barrett lived during all those years of radio silence, his story a frustrating mystery with an unsatisfying resolution. And yet, as is argued in the film, perhaps Barrett was fated to burn brightly, just before having his candle snuffed out.
– Peter Lindblad