#floydatfranklin: Set the Controls for the Franklin Institute


Franklin Institute: Where is Pink Floyd in your Pompeii show?

When the Franklin Institute opened the feature exhibition One Day in Pompeii in November, my mind immediately returned to that hazy, darkened, college living room, sunken into the couch with a couple buddies fully entranced in Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii. And then I thought: why can’t the Franklin Institute host a screening (or some screenings) of this film?

In my second-ever visit to Philadelphia, in 1996, I went with a college girlfriend to see Laser Floyd at the Franklin Institute. They had Dark Side and The Wall—we opted for the former. FI’s Fels Planetarium had hosted the popular Laser Floyd for years—check out this 1988 story in the Inquirer—and continued to do so until a couple years ago. That is to say: The Franklin Institute and Pink Floyd have a history.

Directed by Adrian Maben, Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii was released in 1972—as the band was recording The Dark Side of the Moon, one of the greatest and best selling albums of all time. The film was distributed by Universal Pictures. Pink Floyd’s record label, EMI, was purchased by Universal Music Group in 2011. Universal Pictures and Universal Music Group are owned by NBCUniversal. NBCUniversal is owned by Comcast. Comcast’s headquarters are about four blocks from the Franklin Institute.

There they are, performing in front of only ghosts under a looming Mt Vesuvius! | Screen capture from Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii
There they are, performing in front of only ghosts under a looming Mt Vesuvius! | Screen capture from Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii

This needs to happen.

One Day in Pompeii runs through April 27th, so there’s still time for it to happen, and for it to be timely. The exhibition features 150 items on loan from the Naples National Archaeological Museum—the same museum that provided the b-roll for Live at Pompeii. There might even be some of the very same relics on display on the Parkway that were featured in the film 41 years ago.

Not only does Live at Pompeii feature typically Floydian breathtaking cinematography, but the music shows the band at the doorstep of its zenith. “Echoes” is the single song that bridges their early, Syd Barrett ’60s exploration and their Roger Waters ’70s golden era. The director’s cut of the film even splices segments of them recording The Dark Side of the Moon at Abbey Road Studios. I’d think for a screening at one of the Franklin Institute’s theaters—Franklin, Imax, or preferably, as a nod to Laser Floyd, Fels—the original, 60 minute version of just the concert in the ancient Pompeii amphitheater would suffice. People will come. I will definitely come.

* * *

C’mon Franklin Institute. I contacted you in November about this, was told someone would look into it, I never heard back from you, and you haven’t responded to my follow-up calls and emails. And I ain’t even mad. But time’s a wastin’.

Sure, we can watch it at home on DVD, or even on Youtube. But we want to see it on the big screen, with that big, digital, Franklin Institute sound. We want to see that slow pan of the “Pink Floyd London” gear. We want to see Roger Waters bang a gong, 26-year-old David Gilmour without a shirt, the late Rick Wright with a funeral organ, Nick Mason with a mustache and a mission, and we want to see it on the big screen.

Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii is a milestone in concert film. It even inspired a Beastie Boys video.

It’s also worth noting that Comcast is a corporate benefactor of the Franklin Institute, and Comcast’s VP of Community Development Charisse Lillie is a board member of both the Franklin Institute and NBCUniversal Foundation.

Let’s make this happen. We want to see #floydatfranklin.

4 thoughts on “#floydatfranklin: Set the Controls for the Franklin Institute

    1. Do people really object to others watching a great show, just for the sake of pretending they are too cool? Obviously you never saw a Pink Floyd laser light show, or you wouldn’t be trying to tell the person who wants it to be shown again to tamp down for the sake of whatever you said, didn’t even really read what you said. Stay away from the planetarium on those days, you obviously don’t really appreciate art anyway, so it won’t bother you a bit, and but out. The Show really does need to go on, and on….did I make my point?

  1. I was just thrown back to the old episode of “freeks & geeks”
    (its a older tv show set in 1980)
    when Nick says “come on guys we have to go to the planetarium ….they aren’t going to do laser floyd forever”

  2. Jason, freeks and geeks are what is around us today, the people who used to lay on chairs and watch the Pink Floyd laser light show didn’t tolerate freeks and geeks. They actually talked to people in the room with them. They didn’t hold a phone with the capabilities to text, take pictures and talk to others who weren’t in the room with them in order to feel like they belonged. You need to go to the Pink Floyd laser light show, put your geeky phone down, and talk to the people around you, dude. You might actually meet someone you can reach out and touch with your hands and body. Now that’s cool. Good Luck in life, Jason

Comments are closed.