There’s something really quite special about The Fall. I had the same feeling watching it as when I saw Pan’s Labyrinth last year. I suppose it’s the feeling of watching something that the director really cares about. Apparently Tarsem Singh, the director, flooded millions of his own money into the project, and that it contains no CGI. At all. I emphasise that because, quite frankly, that’s astonishing.
I guess pushing millions of dollars into the film would be the only way to achieve such breathtaking beauty without resorting to conjuring it up on a computer. It’s not just the normal stuff that you’d expect to be faked; men coming out of burning trees, an entire city painted blue or a maze of insurmountable stairs. It’s also things like a meadow in the middle of the desert, a island in the shape of a butterfly and an elephant crossing a vast sea. These things are certainly possible without CGI, but why bother?
To understand the answer to that question you really need to see the film. The plot is relatively simple; in the beginning of the 20th century a little girl breaks her arm, and a Hollywood stuntman takes a particularly bad fall. Stuck in the same hospital, she goes to him every day to hear a story, or ‘epic’ as it’s described. The resulting story is where all these fantastical elements play out.
Now, it’s easy to say something pithy about how the story set in the real world is far more meaningful and important than that of the imagination, but in this film, I don’t think that’s true. They are both important to the mechanics of the story, as one affects the other, but I did find myself looking forward to the next time the ‘bandits’ graced the screen.
The film is dominated by the Romanian actress Catinca Untaru, playing Alexandria, the five year old girl with the broken arm. The story that the stunt man (Lee Pace) tells is shown to us through her eyes, where the ‘Indian’ who lives in a wigwam and has a squaw, is actually from India, with a beard and turban, and every member of the cast is played by one of her friends in the real world. She has a way of blurting out her scentences that adds her role credibility and more importantly aimiability. The consternation on her brow when Roy, the stuntman, refuses to continue with the story at various intervals is both hilarious and endearing.
Overall, the whole film is a spectacle, first and foremost. There is a story there, but it is a device to deliver you these grandiose vistas, while still maintaining a feeling of continuity. As I said at the beginning, there are a striking amount of similarities to Pan’s Labarynith, but in an entirely complimentary way. However, the darkness from that film is not carried over here, and, while dark in some parts, it never seems to become truely threatening. I suggest you go out of your way to watch it, as I doubt we’ll see it’s like again too soon.