Saturday, February 2, 2013

"The Fall" Review

I recently watched the movie The Fall directed by Tarsem and starring Lee Pace and Cantinca Untaru. I can honestly say that this movie is now settled solidly up on my favorite movies list. It premiered in 2006, and mainly fell under the radar, which was quite a shame. I personally found it at the end of a long journey of Lee Pace fangirling that led me through Breaking Dawn and Pushing Daisies, and deposited me at this movie.
This movie is really what I would call a work of art in all aspects of the phrase. The costume design, the music, the landscapes, the character development, I thought everything was right on point. The story takes place in 1915 in Los Angeles, the era of silent movies. The main character is a stuntman name Roy (Lee Pace) who winds up in the hospital after breaking both his legs while doing a stunt. Alexandria (Cantinca Untaru) is a five year old immigrant who broke her arm when she fell picking oranges, and therefore winds up in the same hospital as Roy. The two meet by chance and Roy forges a fake friendship with her, designed to manipulate her to attain pills for him so he can go through with suicide; he's heartbroken after losing his girlfriend to the star of the movie. As incentive Roy offers to tell her a story, and here is where the other dimension of the movie is introduced. Roy weaves a grandiose tale of five bandits, all seeking revenge against the invidious Governor Odious, who wronged all of them. As Roy tells the story Alexandria envisions it, drawing on familiar faces and objects to create the fantasy world. The movie switches back and forth between the epic story and the mundane hospital, and as the movie goes on, these two dimensions become more and more entwined and bleed into each other. 

A strong point of the film was how the subtle feelings and relationships in the hospital were played out more obviously in the story Roy was telling, the strongest case for this being the relationship between Alexandria and Roy. The attitudes of the characters towards each other in the beginning seem disinterested; they're both stuck in the hospital and likely bored out of their minds. Roy soon begins to see her as a tool to get pills, but you realize very soon that Alexandria is beginning to see him as a father figure; she tells Roy that her father is dead. There is a moment in the movie where she asks Roy why he narrates the Red Bandit in an accent, and he informs her that it's supposed to be her father. She tells Roy that she wants the Bandit to speak like him, and shortly after the bandit removes his mask and  you see that she envisions him as Roy. Although throughout quite a bit of the movie Roy seems to see her only for what she can do for him, Alexandria's view of Roy grows, coming a time in the movie where she tells Roy that she is his daughter in the story. After Alexandria falls and hurts her head trying to get morphine for Roy, he comes to her room drunk and finishes the story, having all the characters die. He is about to make the Red Bandit die, but Alexandria protests, and this is the scene where Roy seems to accept Alexandria's view of him; he tells her that the Red Bandit isn't really her father, and she tells him simply that she loves him. This love seems to heal his broken heart, and he gives up on suicide. What I found out after I watched the movie amazed me: almost all of Alexandria's parts were unscripted. To me it made the whole movie that much more sincere.

I may have died a little at this.


 The costume design in the movie was done by  Eiko Ishioka, one of Japan's most well-known graphic designers. The saturated colors and eye-catching designs of the outfits in the fantasy story are a sharp contrast  to the dull and plain outfits in the hospital, and they contribute a great deal to the artistic quality of the film, as well as to the personalities of the characters themselves. I kept noticing throughout the film how well the palettes of each of the character's outfits went so well together, and how they complemented each other.

The outfits of Nurse Evelyn never ceased to amaze me. They are completely fitting to the story Roy is painting and Alexandria imagining; over-the-top in the most elegant and beautiful way. I also love the fact that they call attention to themselves; so often in movies the outfits are supposed to go subtly unnoticed, simply blending with the scene and not getting in the way of anything that is happening. The costumes' roles in this movie were to add to the visual beauty, not to go unnoticed, and I loved that.

A fun fact I noticed only the second time I watched the film- the armor of Odius's men is the same as the gear of the man working the X-Ray room in the hospital. This is a perfect example of what I love about this movie; ideas taken from real life are swirled around in a five-year old's head and spit into this story she's imagining in the way she really feels about them. She was afraid of the X-ray operator, and so that fear was amplified in the story. This happened with the feelings of both characters, enabling you to really feel like you could understand their feelings so much better because you were seeing them portrayed through a different medium.

I would just like to quickly say that I thought the music selections for this movie were perfect. There doesn't seem to be an official sound track for the movie that I can find, but I do know that the theme song was Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in Allegretto. It seemed an odd choice to use Beethoven as a movie soundtrack, but it fits into the movie so perfectly; it adds to the grandiose air of the story. I would also like to note this scene:

The way the music kicked in, echoing what Nurse Evelyn was saying almost as if she was singing the lyrics, was just a gorgeous touch. I loved how the music in the movie really interacted with what was going on, and I love how the camera zooms out a few times. I'd like to note that Tarsem is a music video director, and I thought that he really brought that aspect to the movie in an interesting way.

I could honestly go on and on about this movie for hours and hours and pages and pages, but I would just like to reiterate that it really is one of my favorite movies. I went online after I watched it, and read reviews about, and I was honestly so surprised because people were, like, HATING on this film. That's why I wanted to write this review in the first place- I wanted to contribute my positive thoughts on the movie. It's obviously not a typical movie: it's not supposed to be. I feel like to watch it you have to relax your view of what a movie is; like I said before, I consider this art. The costumes, the settings, the actors, the music, it's all coming together to create something beautiful and stunning, not to just support a story line. I felt like the movie was equally about those things. To me, it seemed like something made out of love, something that didn't want to be mass marketed, something that was created for the sake of bringing something beautiful into being, and I completely respect that. Because of these things, I felt a sort of sincerity from the film that I don't feel from other works. I could feel Tarsem in every single aspect of the piece, and I didn't mind that in the least.


  1. youre right,there need to be more positive reviews for this movie. i think with the rise of pace's popularity through the hobbit movies, more people will come to appreciate it. it was this movie that got him thranduil after all. and i see several first-time watchers gushing about it in the fall tag on tumblr every day.

  2. This movie was amazing. I think I cried for hours after watching it. Every aspect was pure art. When I first started watching it, I thought it was just going to be beautiful scenery-wise. Turns out that the whole thing is a masterpiece. Definitely one of my favorite movies from now on!


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