F is for The Fall (2006)

The Fall is a 2006 film directed by Tarsem Singh starring Lee Pace and Catinca Untaru.  Like The Brothers Bloom, this is another movie that I adore, yet seems underrated or unknown by many others.

The Fall is a beautiful film in both its storytelling and its visuals. The story takes place in a Los Angeles hospital in 1915, where we meet our two main characters.  Alexandria (Untaru) is a young Romanian girl who broke her arm while helping her parents harvest oranges; Roy (Pace) is a Hollywood stuntman who is now paraplegic due to a stunt gone wrong.

Alexandria is a curious, friendly child, and wanders the hospital looking for things to amuse her during her convalescence.  She happens upon Roy, who is bedridden, and he offers to tell her a story.  As the movie progresses, it switches between the real scenes at the hospital and the dream-like narrative that Roy weaves for Alexandria.  But it soon becomes apparent that Roy may be manipulating Alexandria toward his own ends.

The audience observes Roy’s story through the eyes and imagination of Alexandria (for example, Roy obviously means for character called “The Indian” to be a Native American in the style of old Westerns, but she imagines him to be from India).  By the film’s climax, as the young girl begins to conflate reality and fantasy, visual and story elements from each begin to bleed into the other amidst the movie itself.

The Fall (2006) movie poster (via IMDB)

While the story is The Fall is incredibly affecting, with the interplay between Roy and Alexandria being particularly exceptional, it is the film’s visuals that mark it as something special.  Despite the beautiful, colorful, often surrealistic imagery, the director claims that there are no visual effects to generate the film’s locations.  Everything seen in the movie was discovered by Tarsem during his early career directing commercials, and filmed in 28 different countries over the course of four years.  While many films may share a similar aesthetic, the CGI that is so en vogue these days can give off an unnatural look, no matter how good technology has gotten.  In a film like The Fall, the visuals are so striking because they are real.  It would be easy to take any frame from the movie and hang it on the wall as a framed piece of art.

Most of the criticism of this film seems to be that it is self-indulgent, and a bit too artsy.  But in my opinion, The Fall is a visual feast and a delight to the senses.  Sure, the story may seem a bit simplistic at first blush, but there is a subtlety through it all that grants it great texture.  Moreover, the emotional arc of the film is striking.  Pace and Untaru give profound performances that ground the highly fantastical story in reality.  When all is said and done, The Fall is truly an amazingly beautiful piece of cinema.

Disclaimer: All images shown belong to Googly Films, Absolute Entertainment, Deep Films, Networxx Film Management, Radical Media, Tree Top Films, and/or Roadside Attractions, the use of which have not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner.  This blog post is for non-commercial criticism and comment purposes only. I believe that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law.


8 thoughts on “F is for The Fall (2006)

  1. Lisa says:

    I”m not terribly big on watching movies but this one sounds like it could really keep your attention (big plus in my opinion!) and great visuals is always good!


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