‘Faces of Stone’ film

You will now find another video over at DavidGilmour.com (scroll down the page, it’s just before the tour dates), this time for ‘Faces of Stone’.

Directed by Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell, the video features black and white footage of David performing the song at his Hove studio, as well as scenes from Maya Deren’s 1944 avant-garde film, At Land.

At Land is a 15-minute silent film written and directed by the tragic Deren, who plays the woman whose pursuit of the man playing chess and the pawn that is washed away, we follow with such interest.

With its fractured narrative, it has a rather unsettling dream-like quality. We sense her disbelief and disappointment as she observes those around her, recognising herself, struggling to carry more than she can manage and dropping pebbles along the beach. We can easily imagine her frustration (or is it relief?) at being invisible: she is ignored as she slithers across a dining table, all seated around it oblivious to her presence as they happily chat and smoke. She is unable to reach the man sitting at the head of the table, his focus instead on a chess board, who gets up to leave just as she is within reach of him.

Maya Deren once said that the film is about the struggle to maintain one’s personal identity, which I think fits so well with the song’s lyrics and theme, which of course touches on the extremely cruel way that dementia robs a person of their memories and connection to all that is most familiar and comforting, and how others struggle with that emotional detachment. How time must seem to stand still when one’s speed of thought is so reduced and so much that is going on all around you seems to be a dream.

I’d love to know what you make of it, anyway.

53 comments

  1. Ernest Peske

    Beautiful song, lyrics and great a video. One of my favourite tracks of the album.

  2. tim_c

    Well Fed, you’ve out-done yourself as film and art critic – we must commission you your own BBC 4 series.

    I’m not too sure I respond quite the same way as you to the video but it is nonetheless a treat to behold, as have been all the RTL videos … but first and foremost this song just gets better and better with every listen – what a moving piece it is – I’m falling seriously under the spell of the piano introduction. Where did such a simple and affecting few notes come from?

    • FEd

      Tim, bless your heart, you make me laugh. (That would be the worst series imaginable, but thank you for the giggle.)

  3. Taki

    Thanks for the background FEd. Silly as I was I waited for credits at the end of the clip. This actually says how much I received it as a short movie, doesn’t it?

    Interesting that I placed the black/white sequences in the right period: mid-forties. Probably the clothing let something ring in my mind, but I can’t say.

    Again, a very nonconformist clip, far, far away from the usual rent a bus with bitches (sorry for the wording) videos made for the usual lipsync, bully type “musicians”…

    • Taki

      Oh, and in case I didn’t make my point of view clear: I really liked as a whole. The guitar close ups actually made my day, being on a business trip without my guitar nearby…

  4. George

    Ah man, the star of the show is never the video or the show, it’s never the lights the band or the glow. The star of the show isn’t even the songs or the voice, it’s always the guitar. It’s the guitar that takes your soul, the guitar that stirs the universe and soars through your entire being. It’s the same in the song. It’s the guitar that takes your soul, and it fades out just as you’re flowing towards worlds unknown, leaving you with a sadness more poignant than the song itself. It’s the guitar, the notes that soar and takes my soul. I need more of David’s guitar.

    • Pavlov

      It’s the guitar at the end that just rips out my heart – ‘we the living’ are the ones aching.

  5. George

    Just watched the video again. I think fading David out while he’s playing guitar should be made a criminal offence. Why fade him out? Why? Would Comfy Numb work with a two minute guitar solo that fades out? I don’t think so. I think all David’s songs should be graced with guitar of Comfy Numb status.

  6. Pavlov

    “…fractured narrative, it has a rather unsettling dream-like quality.”

    This is exactly what the song’s music, lyrics and vocal nuances emote — every single chord! Thank you to DG for expressing it so eloquently. While this is not the visual I have in my mind’s eye, it definitely captures the theme well.

    I have officially lost count of how many times I’ve played this beautiful, emotionally jarring piece. It’s especially meaningful to me because it ‘hits close to home’. In the last 6 months, my beloved Mother has taken up residence in an elder care facility with a form of dementia (there are so many types and it’s a deceptive and treacherous disease). While on the surface, it seemed sudden, it’s been taking hold over a number of years and I suspect she tried to ‘cover it up’ as best she could and I tried desperately to pretend it wasn’t there until there was no denying the obvious. The most difficult thing (and why Faces of Stone is so poignant for me) was hearing her dreams, her memories, and her present merge into one ‘reality’ and how distressed she was, thinking she was going ‘mad’. Fortunately with a consistent routine, new habits and a simplified living arrangement, there has been no marked deterioration in the last few months.

    Oh, and talk about a ‘Hollywood smile’ if ever there were one! 🙂 I will, one day, dedicate this song to her.

    • FEd

      Fortunately with a consistent routine, new habits and a simplified living arrangement, there has been no marked deterioration in the last few months.

      I’m very glad to hear that, Pavlov. My best wishes to her and your family.

    • ash

      What you’re saying sounds so familiar Pavlov, 🙁 especially about your Mum thinking she was going mad.

      My Mum was deaf, lived in a silent world for many years. She had type 2 diabetes from when she was about 65 and developed cataracts in both eyes. She refused to have surgery. I think she didn’t fully comprehend how simple the surgery could be because she probably didn’t hear what the consultant was saying. It’s been terrible for us to realise we might have been able to talk her into it had we known she didn’t understand.

      Anyway, she read a lot, couldn’t hear the TV or Music, she did a crossword every day, she was really good at it, more often than not, completing it. One day, about three months before she died, she said she couldn’t understand but recently she hadn’t been able to finish the crossword, a couple of weeks later she started to get words mixed up, put completely the wrong word into a sentence. Then we noticed she had more difficulty seeing, she wanted the television moved a bit closer. The terror we all had was that she’d lose her vision too and be living in a dark, silent world. By this time we were staying with her round the clock.

      The hell of it was she knew this was happening. You said your Mum thought she was going mad. It’s very cruel when they know what’s wrong because they get very distressed and frightened. That is very difficult for the family too. Now I’m wondering if it’s better for dementia sufferers to live in a dream world NOT knowing what is wrong.

      I feel for you Pavlov.

      ash X

  7. Groovyjuve

    I have very personal feelings about this song. I am dying while the world around me is spinning away faster and faster. I am becoming disconnected from the mainstream on a daily basis. Small things are taking on more importance. Gestures of kindness mean so much more. I find myself pulling away from frivolous relationships and trying to make the most of the ones that have genuine substance. How much time we waste! How we struggle uselessly against the tide. Wake up and live!

    Try to reach out on a more individual basis. Quit going on about the masses when there are people all around you that are lost and hurting! Take one item out of your grocery cart and give it to a food bank. Take the money for one of those expensive cups of coffee and give it to a charity that helps the homeless. Listen, and I mean really listen to someone you know who is hurting. No advice is necessary, just listen without being in such a damn hurry. In other words, take a good look around you and take off those blinders and don’t let life pass you by! I guarantee that there’s a whole other world out there if you only look at it. There’s love, satisfaction and peace if you dare to be a part of it.

    I want you guys to know that I love you all as the family you have become and I thank you for accepting me as I am, warts and all!

    • Pavlov

      Beautiful!! Just beautiful…

      I share your sentiment about this place and the family it has become.

      • ash

        Groovyjuve, 🙂

        thank you so much for posting your comment. I’m so sorry to hear you are so ill but I’m also glad for you that you are living with your illness and not dying. I hope you can cram in as much as you want and enjoy every minute. 🙂

        I nursed both my parents in their old age and until their death, my Mum in particular expressed so many regrets about not making the most of opportunities in life and kept telling us to enjoy life as much as possible and not waste our time.

        Life is so short. I wish you the very best.

        ash X

        • Groovyjuve

          Thank you, Ash. I intend to REALLY live. Check out Gordon Lightfoot’s Salute. It kind of sums it up for me.

    • Jill

      Groovyjuve,

      I just wanted you to know that I read what you wrote – more than once. Your words, and the sincerity behind them, affected me very much. Thank you for being so willing to share something so personal, raw and real.

      Peace, Jill

  8. Amedeo

    FEd, my hats off to you mate. I and many others I’m sure, really appreciate your feelings on these matters. It just shows that you are one of the great thinkers in a time that holds so many mindless people.

    This song holds a special place in my heart because my mother also has Dementia, and it is a small comfort for me to know that I’m not alone with these experiences. The fact that David went through this and was able to make such a beautiful song about it, really drives it home for me. The film compliments the song well.

    There are some really good, kind people on this blog, and reading these posts throughout the years, I realize that when I am down and out, I should just take a look around me. I may find that I am fortunate.

    • FEd

      It’s true. We are so very fortunate and most of our grumbles are so insignificant.

      (Said as someone who grumbles about everything.)

      Dementia really is the cruelest thing. The song also means a lot to me. I wonder, though, if I’m reading too much into the film.

      • ash

        I’m going to quote you twice Fed. 🙂

        “I wonder, though, if I’m reading too much into the film.”

        “How time must seem to stand still when one’s speed of thought is so reduced and so much that is going on all around you seems to be a dream.”

        Your description fitted my Mum exactly. In two different ways caused by two very different conditions. The first one was profound hearing loss. She could never get on with hearing aids (so we had to shout), and I realised one day during a family party in the garden that she couldn’t participate in what we were all talking about, she missed the jokes, the conversations, the children’s laughter, she was sitting on a garden bench looking around, smiling now and then but looking around at the plants and the odd person that crossed her line of vision. It hit me then that she was missing a lot in life. She eventually became very reclusive, hated having to interact with anyone other than family because she found communication to be so difficult.

        Because of this Fed, what you said about time standing still whilst life goes on around you, applied to my Mum for at least 20 years.

        It applied to her again during her last few months of life, cancer had gotten into her brain and gradually stripped her of many abilities. A sort of dementia. You know what though? I feel so lucky to have had my Mum so well for so long. Her decline was awful and rapid and from what I’ve read about dementia she was very similar to someone who has it, just very rapid in progress. Now that I think about it, she may well have been affected by the cancer for a lot longer than we realised and we just thought she was being difficult!

        You got it right Fed, so much must be like a dream.

        As for reading too much into the film. . . again, I think your description of what the film was about was excellent. I read about Maya and the film on the Wikipedia entry. . .couldn’t understand a word of the description of the film! I’m glad I’d read yours first!

        One last thing I’ll say about my Mum, I have a photograph of her taken in the early fifties by my Dad on their honeymoon. My Mum is sitting on a rock on a beach, posing very glamorously and Hollywoodish, my mum had black curly hair and was beautiful just like the woman in the film.

        ash

        • ash

          Something else just occurred to me. . . people who have dementia do become invisible. I never see any out and about.

          We see people with physical handicaps, in a wheelchair, on crutches, blind people with their guide dog or white cane. . . we see them and know straight away to be careful not to bump into them or that kind of thing. . .offer to reach things from top shelves. . .able people are very kind and willing to help.

          We don’t SEE people who have a mental illness or who have dementia. That means we don’t see their carers either or the problems they are all living with, I expect because no one knows, no one offers to help.

          ash

          • FEd

            This is very true. I often think that carers and loved ones might actually have it harder than the person experiencing dementia, although who is to say when the person experiencing it cannot articulate how they’re feeling?

          • Pavlov

            Yep, they certainly do become invisible and especially the folks who are in advanced stages. I’m very fortunate – even though a continent separates us, my amazing sisters-in-law visit my Mom frequently, take her out and about, give her a change of scenery. I found when I was there recently that she preferred the confines of her room but I was determined to get her engaged with some of the other residents, participate in a few of the activities that were offered and recounted stories that had she told me over and over again to ‘set the record straight’ so that she wouldn’t forget. Keeping them involved as much as possible helps but isn’t always easy.

          • ash

            Just wanted to clarify, after reading what I said and your response Fed. . . when I talk about “carers”, I mean family members or friends who look after a loved one.

            The name ‘carer’ is often given to people who are employed by residential homes or agencies or local authorities.

            I prefer to call those people “Care Workers” or “Care Staff”. I think it’s an important distinction because so often in the media we hear a story of a carer who’s abused a position of trust. . . stolen money from an elderly person for example.

            Family or friend Carers are an extremely important group of people who do the real caring for no pay whatsoever. They often have to fight to get a care worker to come in for a few hours whilst the main Carer takes a break.

            It looked like I was saying the care staff have a tough time, I didn’t mean them.

            ash 🙂

        • FEd

          There’s certainly a lot of appreciation for David’s “Hollywood smile” line. I think it’s a lovely song.

  9. Damiano cunningham

    A really beautiful song about such a tragedy. It must have been an awful time for David watching his mum fade like that. I, like everyone, love my mum to the moon and back, I’m just off the phone to her. Since my brother died we have grown ever closer. My elder brother has just turned up after a very long time and she is now a lot happier.

    And yes, life is so short and goes by quickly, you never know what’s round the corner. Like today, I was in a road traffic accident. Came from no where, bang, car spun and I’m fine, just sore and no one else hurt. But yeah, as folk are saying, live life, love everyone.

    And thank you again Fed and David for this lovely site.

    Not sure about the video, don’t get me wrong it’s good but I’m not artistic and I could not really give an opinion about the two together unless I was bullshitting, LOL.

    The Endless River has been playing again in the car even when I got hit and it has to be one of the lad’s greatest Albums. Sincerely fantastic. I really hope David and Nick are proud as I’m sure Rick would be.

    Right, I’ll shut up now but I could be on a bit more than usual as I’m off work for a bit.

    Kindest regards
    Damian

    • FEd

      How scary. I’m glad you’re OK. Another reminder that we are so small and fragile in this big world.

      • Damiano cunningham

        That’s twice within 2 months and not my fault, was very lucky really but Yeah, life’s full of troughs and peaks. You don’t realise when you’re growing up all kinds of shots going to happen and when it’s your loved ones, well, nothing worse.

    • ash

      Do go for a check up at hospital Damian. I knew someone who got whiplash and concussion, and it led to problems later. Even if there’s no insurance claims or anything, you didn’t say if there was another driver, you need to get it on your medical records.

      You ought to just get a check up anyway. 🙂

      ash

      • Damiano cunningham

        Thanks Ash, I’m waiting to go in doctors now as I started feeling a bit rough this morning. I took the work car in for repairs today and they said it’s a write off, the rear axle is broken and to think I drove it back 50 miles.

      • Pavlov

        I agree with Ash Damian. If there is a record of it, it may come in useful later on. Even the slightest bump or nick could turn into something dreadful later on [written by someone who should’ve taken care of a sprained foot years ago and just couldn’t have been bothered!].

  10. JC_2410

    David’s on The Andrew Marr Show now! (Sunday BBC1 09.00am)

    P.S. I like his new house. 🙂

    JC

    • Pete - Coventry

      Sunday mornings are TV on, sound down and CD playing on stereo.

      So I nearly choked on my Weetabix when I saw David’s face pop up on that programme. I also chuckled when he was introduced as Pink Floyd’s leader.

  11. Michèle

    Interesting and haunting video. I see people living in parallel worlds, unable to communicate. I think of, yes, dementia, but also schizophrenia, autism, isolation, generation gap, lack of understanding, ignorance, racism, refugee crisis…

    I think that David deserves a lot of credit, respect and admiration for writing the lyrics of this song himself, knowing how personal and emotional the subject matter is to him, especially as we know (rightly or wrongly) that he is uncomfortable writing lyrics.

  12. Pete - Coventry

    1986 when I lost my ‘Mum’. Terrible shock at the time and, to be honest, you never really fully get over it.

    They say time heals but I don’t tend to go along with that. Because if time heals then you would forget. And you cannot forget your parents no matter the ups and downs you have with them.

    Anyway, pull yourself together Pete from Coventry.

    Hope all went well at the doctors Damian!!

    More like the pain and hurt is replaced by happier memories over time. Different lengths of time for different people though.

    • Damiano cunningham

      Doc said I’m OK, no broken bones, unlike the skeleton in the corner. He had no hands. I asked if he had been caught raiding the drugs cabinet.

      Damian

  13. nfloyd

    Great video and great song. 🙂

    This looks like a beautiful place on the Gilmour – European Summer Tour 2016.

    Hopefully there will be more places like this added to that tour.

  14. Zuli

    Dear FEd,

    I like your explanation about struggling to maintain personal identity.

    The video is really great, very touching. I like the way Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell has performed the matching of “At Land” and “Faces of Stone” focusing on the moments that are more suitable for the song. Bright personality of Maya accentuates the drama of the song. Don’t you know whose idea was the using of “At Land”?

  15. Kimberley

    Just read all the comments and appreciated every one of them. My daughter recently had her first psychotic episode and is now receiving treatment for bipolar.

    Having supported both my mother and father to their deaths and being witness to their dimming capacity and reason it was pure torture to watch my daughter no longer make sense and view me as her enemy.

    Fortunately she admitted finally to her physician her psychosis and got treatment but when she talked to me later about that time she said it was fear that was her strongest emotion. Fear can be frightening, especially when its not clear what exactly the source of the fear might be. I have witnessed seniors with dementia caught in a cycle of fear that is heart wrenching.

    The film I found interesting as it seemed to play with the concept of time. At points the waves are reversed, leaving the shore, she appears to be falling up the stairs. I thought the film made more sense as a dream then as a real life episode.

    BTW, love the song much more then the film. The best truths are like the simple and pure notes at the beginning of the song.

  16. George

    I’ve watched the video again and again, and although it’s brilliant and it does get the message across, and it tugs at your heart, and it’s brimming over with emotion, really, David’s faded out lead guitar carries more emotion than the whole video put together.

    Could we please have an extended version like the extended version of Rattle that Lock? David’s guitar is just out of this world.

  17. George

    This song has grown on me so much that I think it’s one of David’s greatest works. It’s brilliant, but it’s screaming out for his guitar to take it beyond being just a song and turn it into a timeless legend.

  18. Maya

    I can’t even begin to profess my love for this song, this film, David’s art. This song is so classically Gilmour it makes me ache. I adore it and I’m so grateful he made it. The film is the perfect visual interpretation.

    I cannot wait to see him Live at the Hollywood Bowl. I am so lucky. I am SO lucky. I am so blessed.