Squaring The Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis) Dir: Anton Corbijn (Film Review)

Squaring The Circle

Classic rock nerds rejoice! Squaring the Circle takes you behind the scenes of the making of some of rocks most iconic album covers as created by a company called Hipgnosis.

Of course if you are a classic rock nerd, you already know about Hipgnosis and the hundreds of album covers they created including Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, Led Zeppelin’s Presence and Paul McCartney & Wings’ Band On The Run (to name just a few).

Pink FloydDirector Anton Corbijn knows a thing or two about rock & roll and images having been one of music’s most respected photographers before stretching out into filmmaking.  This is Corbijn’s first doco (he directed the Ian Curtis biopic Control) and he used he contacts to get a very impressive list of musicians to help tell the tale of Hipgnosis including Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Paul McCartney and Peter Gabriel.

The two men who are central to the story are Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey “Po” Powell, who met in the mid-60s hanging with in the ‘Pink Floyd scene’, back when Syd was still alive and well.

Storm passed in 2013 but Po is still with us and gets plenty of screen time as do the members of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.

And that’s where the fun begins.

I love hearing how the company was started when they created the album art for 1968’s A Saucer Full Of Secrets…not just that they did it, but how they did it.

Peter GabrielPo became the photographer and Storm was the ideas man but both were learning. Po tells how he was told to ‘point, shoot, reload and repeat’ as he learned his trade.

Meanwhile Storm was a hard man to deal with, being called everything from rude to blunt to bolshy to a pain in the ass. According to Nick Mason, Storm, ‘wouldn’t take yes for an answer’.

The film goes deep into the making of such iconic album covers as Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here,  In Through The Out Door, Band On The Run and most entertainingly Pink Floyd’s Animals. There was no digital trickery going on in those days and Po takes great joy in telling how they shot the inflatable pig over Battersea Park and how it eventually floated away.

Pink FloydLike all good things, it had to come to an end. By 1980 Storm saw that video was they future  but Po wasn’t convinced. They broke up the company and Po is tearful when telling how they then didn’t see each other for over a dozen years after that.

Fifty years on and these album covers are as recognizable as the music they promoted. Noel Gallagher is on hand to explain how ‘kids these days’ don’t understand the importance of album art, but frankly, I don’t see the importance of including Gallagher’s comments.

That aside, this is a documentary that will have you reaching for your old records and pouring over the liner notes while grooving to Wish You Were Here, Band On The Run or Achilles Last Stand.

Art For Art’s sake, indeed.

Marty Duda

Squaring The Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis) is showing at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

Click here for tickets.





Marty Duda
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