Dark Side of the Rainbow

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Dark Side of the Rainbow – also known as Dark Side of Oz or The Wizard of Floyd – refers to the pairing of the 1973 Pink Floyd album The Dark Side of the Moon with the visual portion of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz." [1] This produces moments where the film and the album appear to correspond with each other. The title of the music video mashup-like experience comes from a combination of the album title, the album cover, and the film's song "Over the Rainbow". Band members and others involved in the making of the album state that any relationship between the two works of art is merely a coincidence.[2]

History[edit]

In August 1995, the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Journal Gazette published the first mainstream media article[3] about the "synchronicity," citing the Usenet discussion group alt.music.pink-floyd. Soon afterward, several fans began creating websites in which they touted the experience and tried to comprehensively catalogue the corresponding moments. A second wave of awareness began in April 1997, when Boston radio DJ George Taylor Morris discussed Dark Side of the Rainbow on the air, leading to further mainstream media articles and a segment on MTV news.[2]

In July 2000, the cable channel Turner Classic Movies aired a version of Oz with the Dark Side album as an alternate soundtrack.[4] Turner Entertainment has owned the rights to the film since 1986.

Synchronicity[edit]

There are various approaches regarding when to start synchronizing The Dark Side of the Moon audio with the film. Several involve the MGM lion as the cue. Most suggest the third roar, while some prefer the second or first. Others suggest starting the album not immediately after the lion's roar, but after the lion fades to black—exactly when the film begins. Viewing recommendations include reducing the film's audio and using captions or subtitles to follow the dialogue and plot.[5]

The iconic dispersive prism of the album's cover purportedly reflects the movie's transition from black-and-white Kansas to Technicolor Oz; further examples include music changes at dramatic moments, and thematic alignments such as the scarecrow dance during "Brain Damage". This synergy effect has been described as an example of synchronicity, defined by the psychologist Carl Jung as a phenomenon in which coincidental events "seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality."[6]

Detractors argue that the phenomenon is the result of the mind's tendency to think it recognizes patterns amid disorder by discarding data that does not fit.[7] Psychologists refer to this tendency as apophenia, or confirmation bias. In this theory, a Dark Side of the Rainbow enthusiast will focus on matching moments while ignoring the greater number of instances where the film and the album do not correspond.

Coincidence versus intent[edit]

Pink Floyd band members have repeatedly said that the reputed phenomenon is coincidence. In an interview for the 25th anniversary of the album, guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour denied the album was intentionally written to be synchronized with the film, saying "Some guy with too much time on his hands had this idea of combining Wizard of Oz with Dark Side of the Moon."[8] On an MTV special about Pink Floyd in 2002, the band dismissed any relationship between the album and the movie, saying there were no means of reproducing the film in the studio at the time they recorded the album.

Dark Side of the Moon audio engineer Alan Parsons in 2003 dismissed the supposed effect:

It was an American radio guy who pointed it out to me. It's such a non-starter, a complete load of eyewash. I tried it for the first time about two years ago. One of my fiancée's kids had a copy of the video, and I thought I had to see what it was all about. I was very disappointed. The only thing I noticed was that the line "balanced on the biggest wave" came up when Dorothy was kind of tightrope walking along a fence. One of the things any audio professional will tell you is that the scope for the drift between the video and the record is enormous; it could be anything up to twenty seconds by the time the record's finished. And anyway, if you play any record with the sound turned down on the TV, you will find things that work.[9]

Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason teasingly told MTV in 1997, "It's absolute nonsense. It has nothing to do with The Wizard of Oz. It was all based on The Sound of Music."[10]

Technical considerations[edit]

Film critic Richard Roeper published his assessment of the phenomenon, which he referred to as "Dark Side of Oz". Roeper concluded that while the band may have had the resources and technical know-how to produce an alternative film soundtrack, undergoing such an endeavor would have been highly impractical. Roeper also noted the technical issue of the roughly 43-minute Dark Side of the Moon being short compared to the 101-minute Wizard of Oz.[11]

In the book Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd, Nick Mason noted that the band was becoming proficient at creating movie soundtracks by the time they started the recording of The Dark Side of the Moon, and that they even interrupted their work on the album so they could score yet another film. He explained the technical process that Pink Floyd used to score movies when he wrote about the recording of the 1972 Obscured by Clouds movie soundtrack:

After the success of More, we had agreed to do another sound track for Barbet Schroeder. His new film was called La Vallée and we travelled over to France to record the music in the last week of February... We did the recording with the same method we had employed for More, following a rough cut of the film, using stopwatches for specific cues and creating interlinking musical moods that would be cross-faded to suit the final version... The recording time was extremely tight. We only had two weeks to record the soundtrack with a short amount of time afterwards to turn it into an album.

Variations on the theme[edit]

The fame of Dark Side of the Rainbow has prompted some to search for synchronicities among other albums or films. The lengthy Pink Floyd song "Echoes" from the 1971 album Meddle has been paired with "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite," the fourth act in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Again the correspondences are primarily formal/structural and not grounded in the content of the lyrics. Both the track and the sequence are approximately 23 minutes.[12]

Comedian Matt Herzau claims that the Pixar film WALL-E syncs up with Pink Floyd's rock opera The Wall, which he has called "Another Brick in the WALL-E", after the album's three-part song "Another Brick in the Wall." [13][14] Another popular Pink Floyd movie sync pairs The Wall with Disney's 1951 animated Alice in Wonderland. In connection with Alice, another Floyd-related album syncs up with that film - Syd Barrett's solo album The Madcap Laughs.

"Their Satanic Majesties Baby Shower Gift Registry" by comedy duo The Martin Duprass reportedly "syncs up to Episode 13, Season 4, of Star Trek: The Next Generation the way Dark Side of the Moon syncs up to The Wizard of Oz".[15]

Canadian dance music artist Rich Aucoin's second album Ephemeral (to be released in September 2014 in North America) is an adaptation of the themes of the novella The Little Prince and is meant to synch up to the 1979 short Claymation film of the same name, along the lines of Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz.[16]

In popular culture[edit]

In February 2003, the reggae cover-band group Easy Star All-Stars released a cover album of The Dark Side of the Moon entitled Dub Side of the Moon which features instructions on how to synchronize the record with The Wizard of Oz

In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005), Pepe the King Prawn (as Toto) says, "Those of you who have Dark Side of the Moon, press play now."[17]

In The Angry Video Game Nerd's 2008 episode on the video game adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, all the episode's events are deliberately synced up to Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon if one plays the first four songs of the album in sync to this episode, a reference to the connection between the album and the 1939 film.[18]

In the 2010 How I Met Your Mother episode "Blitzgiving", Marshall and Ted mention a time they watched The Wizard of Oz while listening to The Dark Side of the Moon, which inspires them to do the same thing with Apocalypse Now and "Weird Al" Yankovic's Greatest Hits.

In the Trailer Park Boys episode "Give Peace a Chance," Bubbles mentions a synchronized showing of "Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wizard of Oz" occurring while he and the boys were in prison.

Another reference appeared in the Supernatural episode "Dream a Little Dream of Me". Dean asks Sam if they should "dim the lights and sync up Wizard of Oz and Dark Side of the Moon". Sam asks why, prompting Dean to wonder what Sam did in college.[19]

In the 2002 Family Guy episode "Stuck Together, Torn Apart", Mort Goldman states "We like to watch old movies while listening to "Hotel California" to see if it synchs up in a significant way. And so far, no, nothing has."

In a 2000 episode of Family Guy, "The Story on Page One", Meg Griffin tells Luke Perry that "Dark Side of the Moon totally syncs up with the Wizard of Oz", to which Perry replies, "You know, Shannen Doherty told me that once, but I thought she was just being a bitch."

In a 2014 Drum Corps International show, performed by the Colts, Dark Side of the Rainbow is portrayed as a world in which the Scarecrow rules Oz after Dorothy has left.

In the 2012 film "Fun Size," the main character (Victoria Justice) decides to dress as Dorothy for a high school Halloween party after listening to The Dark Side of the Moon. The film briefly includes a visual clip of the album in its record form.

References[edit]

Notes