8 September 2010

De Cadere

The Fall (2006)
Directed by Tarsem Singh

"...a movie that you might want to see for no other reason than because it exists. There will never be another like it"

Seventeen years of location scouting, shot over the period of four years in twenty four countries, Tarsem Singh's 2006 film, The Fall, is one of the most beautifully crafted pieces of cinema I have seen in years.  Exquisitely artistic cinematography is deftly woven into an intricate visual tapestry driven by a powerfully emotive story of love and loss.

The story is set in the early years of the twentieth century in a Los Angeles hopsital, where a five-year-old girl, Alexandria (played by the adorable Catinca Untaru), is recovering from a fall that left her arm broken.  She strikes up a friendship with a stuntman, Roy Walker (played by Lee Pace), whose legs are left paralyzed after falling from a bridge whilst filming.  Roy's condition is compounded by the fact that he lost his lover to the lead actor of the film in which he was working.  The doctors begin to suspect that his paralysis is the result of severe emotional trauma, being heartbroken, rather than as a result of his fall.

Seeking to numb the pain with morphine, Roy has lost the woman that he loved, as well as his hope, and looks to end his life.  However just as Roy has lost his love, we discover that Alexandria has also lost someone after "evil men" burned down her home and brutally killed her father in front of her.  Together they escape into a fantasy world, bright and wonderful in its inception, however swiftly spiraling into the darkness of Roy's mind, as Alexandria seeks to bring Roy back from the pain in which he is lost.

Roy tells Alexandria a tale of five heroes with a sworn mission to kill the malevolent Governor Odious, the actor to which he has lost his love.  As Roy narrates his wonderful tale, the world and characters are given substance in Alexandria's mind, quite literally springing out of the ground.  The audience sees Roy's epic tale as imagined by the young Alexandria.  Roy intricately weaves together the happenings and developments of the "real" world into his tale, and we see the visuals of the landscape, and even characters, ebb and flow with the power of his words.  It is amazing being able to see Alexandria's imagination at work whilst Roy speaks - in one instance Alexander The Great turns from standing in ruins to the vastness of the desert, and in another not knowing what a wigwam is, Alexandria imagines "The Indian" as a turban-wearing, scimitar-wielding Prince.


The five heroes of the story are the ex-slave, the Indian, the bomb expert, the naturalist Charles Darwin and the Masked Bandit, who begins as Alexandria's father but later becomes Roy himself.  They are united in their oaths to kill Governor Odious, meeting after he exiles them to a desert island in the middle of a vast ocean.  Escaping by sitting on the back of a swimming elephant, they cross beautiful landscape after beautiful landscape in their search for Odious.  Roy's tale is however punctuated by his profound feelings of loss and despair, and he cruelly sends Alexandria on a bandit's mission to find him the morphine pills he needs to end his life.

Tarsem Singh insists that the film was made with the use of absolutely no computer-generated imagery.  He spent years and a vast amount of his own personal finances in order to shoot the film in some of the most stunning settings the world has to offer, beautifully furnishing the imaginary world of Roy and Alexandria.  It is curious to think that the fantastical imaginary world of the film is in a way more realistic than the majority of real settings we have become accustomed to seeing in film and television.  Indeed he ought to be applauded not only for being able to imagine such a stunning plethora of settings and shots, but also having the determination to create them without the aid of computer imagery.  In terms of sheer effort and exploration of the art of cinematography, this film is astounding.  I had actually intended to write a little on each of locations and discuss some of the architecture featured within the film, however quite frankly these images speak for themselves. 

In terms of costume, it was the Lepidoteran coat of Charles Darwin that captured my imagination.  Paired with the black bowler hat, white undershirt, white braces, white breeches and black riding boots, the bold colouring of the coat really stood out.  I loved the look of the coat in motion, and indeed there was one particular scene that was delightful to watch.  The camera looks down on a field of lush green high grass that fills the frame, with the wind sweeping the grass from left to right.  Darwin runs diagonally, from the upper left of the frame through down to the lower right, leaving a track of rustled and flattened grass in his fluttering wake.  It is but a quick shot in the middle of a chase scene, however it was beautifully thought out and executed.  It is that attention to visual detail that makes this film such a delight to watch.

Currently playing: Light Of Life - Harry Gregson-Williams 



  1. The visuals in the movie were quite striking.

  2. That coat was made by Eiko Ishioka, I put it on my tumblr a while ago but I didn't know what movie it was used in, so thanks!! :D

  3. awesome review. i love Lee pace. Such an epic story.

  4. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Awesome.

  5. This is one of my favorite films ever. So heart-rending and beautiful.

  6. Hands down, one of my favorite movies. Caught it on HBO a few years ago and remember actually gasping out loud at how breathtakingly beautiful everything looked. Funny thing is that I started screencaping it a few moths back for the blog as well. Great minds :D I'm glad you made this post because your talent with words really did the movie justice!

    A surprise for me in the movie was the fact that the girl is Romanian. It was a funny shock to hear my own language suddenly pop up in on of my favorite movies :)

  7. I am so glad I saw this movie, the shots were exquisite and the story was not half bad either. I was really sucked in to it all. I didn’t realize it took that long to put together and was without computer effects, wow!

  8. Please vote the unbelievle deejay ever ! Vote at "Cea mai tare ascensiune din Romania in 2010" - MOONSOUND!!