Pink Floyd’s seminal 1973 concept album The Dark Side of the Moon turns 40 this year. It’s a sobering milestone for many reasons, but in addition to reawakening fears among the album’s fans that they have been ticking away the moments that make up a dull day, frittering and wasting the hours in an offhand way, that news is also cause for celebration--at least in the form of a new BBC Radio 2 drama, "Dark Side," written by Sir Tom Stoppard, with a cast that includes Bill Nighy and Rufus Sewell.
If that still sounds kind of depressing to you, well, you’re in the perfect mood to watch the three-minute animated trailer for the radio play, created by Aardman Animations and directed by Darren Dubicki. Drawing heavily on the ambient noises found on the album--heartbeats, tweeting birds, muffled laughter--and placing them behind a calm-voiced British woman who explains, "We consume everything. We’re dying of consumption. Hardwoods have been toppled for dashboards. The last rhino has given up its horn for a cancer cure that doesn’t work. The last fish is gasping beneath a floating island of plastic as big as France." It’s a little more real than the black-lights-and-dorm-smoke version of Dark Side of the Moon that many of us are used to, but the imagery--underground prison cell, people with jet engines for heads--stays true to and builds on the album’s look and themes of time, loss, and madness. And with the crescendo to the album’s closer, "Eclipse," remaining absolutely perfect, it’s a reminder of just why the album remains so iconic 40 years later.
And at the very least, it’s a chance to experience Dark Side of the Moon in a new way that isn’t just synching it up to The Wizard of Oz again.
"Dark Side" will air on BBC Radio 2 on August 26.