Directed by Tarsem
Starring Lee Pace & Catinca Untaru
2006, 115 Minutes
Reviewed by Wayne Pollock on 17/02/2012
To put it mildly The Fall is a visual treat filmed on location across 20 countries that was especially jaw dropping on The Astor’s Superscreen. Most of these locations had never been used in a fictional film before. To get a rough idea of what to expect, I would say to think of a melding between the cinematography of Baraka with a story reminiscent of Pan’s Labyrinth.
To discuss only the locations and the aesthetic beauty of The Fall would be, in my opinion, a disservice to the film as a whole. For the aesthetics are the ingredients and not quite enough to get a Tarsem Singh film to the finish line. This was evident in his latest film ‘Immortals’ (2011). A film generally considered ‘nice to look at with no emotional investment’. The Fall is not about the visual flair. The visuals add to the story; just as a visual effect should.
The core of the film is in the relationship between Roy, the stuntman who may never walk again and Alexandria, a seven-year-old girl with a broken arm who has just lost her home and her father. They share a story that begins as a way of manipulating the little girl into doing favours for him. Through this story more and more of his personal story of recovery and his feelings come through. What makes this work so well is that the chemistry between Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) and the adorable new comer Catinca Untaru feels genuine.
Similar to the recent Hugo and The Artist, Roy is a relic of the silent film era. Just as George Melies (Hugo) and George Valentin (The Artist) are saved from their emotional wounds by unassuming acts of innocence Roy is saved by Alexandria. A little girl that is unaware of the ritual of sharing bread. When Roy asks if she is trying save him by sharing holy bread, she has no idea what he is talking about. He proceeds to explain what the nuns use Holy Bread for. It is these moments of affection that move this film beyond a work of aesthetic beauty and create a film of emotional reverence.
I find it hard to believe that this film is only now just finding its way into cinemas and to Australian DVD retailers. I actually bought the Blu Ray four years ago on import from Amazon as a blind purchase. It has since become my favourite demo disc for my home theatre system. The scene with the Elephant on Butterfly Island is one of my favourite things to show people. Seeing this at The Astor in a 4k digital print was beyond anything I ever imagined. I highly recommend seeing this at The Astor, but if you cannot wait that long I suggest getting the Blu Ray. It definitely stands up to and benefits from repeat viewing.