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.