Songs that Need to be Movies: ‘4:50 AM (Go Fishing)’ by Roger Waters
A man packs up his family and moves them to the deep country to live the pastoral life away from the things of man but discovers there is no such thing as Eden and all things are corruptible.
From Pink Floyd‘s former frontman Roger Waters, off his 1984 debut solo album The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, this first song on ‘side 2’ tells of nameless man and his wife who set out in spring with their children (with hopes for more) to find a few life away from the city, deciding to live like the days of yore, hunting and farming for food, using a loom to make clothing and living as one with nature. All is well at first with their planning and supplies in proper order, though as winter approaches, the sun goes down sooner each day, signaling a darkness that is coming. From there, things begin to crumble, with the kid’s getting sick, the heater breaking down, and a ‘friend’ from the East coming to visit who steals his wife’s heart. With the dream in shambles, there’ nothing to do but leave it behind in tatters and head out again. Waters sings:
And so…leaving all our hopes and dreams
To the wind and the rain
Taking only our stash
Left our litter and trash
And set out on the road again
On the road again
On the road again
A bitter and tragic love story about the failures of two people to keep the connection of a love built in one dream and left to wither in another, this unusual song with what seems like obvious lyrics has a lot left to interpretation. It’s sardonic and sadly funny (he quotes a bit of Winnie the Pooh) and never truly sets a hero or a villain, rather leaving the scenario open to the wilds of the seasons, which are metaphorical to be sure for time and miscommunication. Because of this, the best way to bring this to the big screen is to put it in the hands of someone who could color it with some quirky narrative, layering it with the honesty it needs but with a clever nod and imaginative style that could convey the broken down fantasy. By that description alone, there can only be one name on the list: Wes Anderson.
Anderson, who has built a career out of ingeniously inventive and carefully crafted stories, could take this seemingly straightforward tale and give it a darker edge, but one singed with the human comedy he is so famously known for. Combining his trademark color palette and stylistic acting approach all his film inhabit, he could populate the forest with stop-motion animation animals, such as the ones he made for Fantastic Mr. Fox (in the song they even adopt a fox!). Imagine a character-driven drama about a man whose marriage and dreams are falling apart in a wooded plot of land with no electricity surrounded by colorful stop-motion creatures who mill about (and maybe even communicate with him).
With Wes Anderson in the director’s chair, that means casting the lead is easy. Owen Wilson is perfect this part, an actor known for his comedies, he is an exceptionally talented dramatic actor as well and would bring a lot to this role, able to convey much with few words. Of course Bill Murray would absolutely need to show up. The wife would be more tricky and names like Kate Winslet and Natalie Portman spring to mind, but the best choice would be Keira Knightley, whose dynamic presence could really be a great complement to Wilson’s more subdued approach. Her character would be more fleshed out and given proper context for the her apparent betrayal at the song’s end. The potential is enormous.
This issue is, of course, Roger Waters himself, who was notoriously unhappy with how his music for 1979’s The Wall was mishandled when brought to the theaters, so much so that he put a not so subtle image of a man holding a film canister with a large knife in his back on the cover of his following album, The Final Cut. So there might be some hoops to jump through in getting the rights to this song. (If you’re reading Mr. Waters, please kindly consider this a respectful admiration of your work from some long-time fans). The themes of returning to a more bucolic lifestyle have never been more relevant (later this year, Viggo Mortenson‘s Captain Fantastic will be released, featuring a man taking his family away from civilization to be raised without technology).
Would you see this film? What are some songs you’d like to see made into movies?