44 Films: Film 14 of 44: "The Fall" (2006)
Film 14 of 44:
"The Fall" (2006)
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Film has become detrimentally accessible. It's not the ease that's the problem. It's our resulting attitude. We take the good stuff for granted now. Back when we made trips to the library to borrow bulky cassettes that individually carried 2 hours of standard definition footage, we were a little more aware of the significance of the moment. Now, thousands of hours of content are available the moment we fire up the TV, laptop or phone, and most of it isn't any good. It's refreshing, therefore, when we encounter material that reminds us of the classic joy and wonder that film can convey.
The Fall begins in a hospital in 1915 Los Angeles. Roy Walker (Lee Pace) lies bed-ridden and paralysed when he meets Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), a Romanian girl with a broken arm and an artless charm. They strike up a quick friendship and he regales her with a tale of 5 heroes on an epic quest for revenge on an evil emperor. It's all run of the mill stuff until Alexandria pitches in, and writer-director Tarsem grants us access to the pictures she's creating in her head as the story unfolds. They are spectacular.
I cannot emphasise enough how visually stunning this film is. From the opening frame to the final montage (which I consider to be one of the most satisfying endings to a film), Tarsem and cinematographer Colin Watkinson combine storytelling efficiency with opulent vision. You have seen many variations of this story before, but not with this dedication to picturesque craft. Consider, for instance, that it was shot over 4 years in 28 countries, and none of the visual effects were rendered via CGI, which is an underrated feat considering its visual sumptuousness.
Any stranger to The Fall may wonder as they watch it, what's the point? First, it's okay for there to be none. But if there has to be, let's just say that Roy's storytelling efforts aren't entirely honourable or free of melancholy. He is after all, a paraplegic confined to a hospital bed during Hollywood's golden era (that last detail matters). As the darker reaches of his mind become evident in his tale, the tone will turn, and Alexandria will need to step up to save it. Her guilelessness is a consequent part of the third act and epilogue, and they are a colourful delight.
Watch The Fall, really. And I request that you accompany the viewing with a more inaccessible pleasure. Make it a date night, or watch it on vacation, or obtain a glass of wine and a fine steak before you press play. You won't just enjoy a synergistic sense-fest, you'll also remember that film, especially of this sort, is a gift. We ought to stay grateful.
See you tomorrow!
And as a #44Films bonus, a few more stills from the film: