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Ravings Of A Film Fanatic: The Fall

The Fall has been regarded as one of the most under-rated films of 2006, although why that is is completely beyond my comprehension. The story – based on the screenplay of 1981 Bulgarian film Yo Ho Ho – is brilliantly written, the costumes and locations are incredibly imaginative, and the film itself is beautifully shot and directed. Written, produced and directed by relatively unknown Indian film-maker Tarsem Singh, The Fall was given a helping hand to achieve success by David Fincher and Spike Jonze, who lent their names to its presentation.

The plot centres around a man named Roy, who is laid up in a hospital in an early 20th century Los Angeles, and a curious little girl named Alexandria who, in exploring the different wards, befriends Roy and visits him regularly. Roy satisfies Alexandria’s boredom by telling her an ‘Epic Story’, which he fabricates spontaneously in exchange for Alexandria running errands for him. From here on in, the story progresses through two different worlds – the real world in the Los Angeles hospital and the fantasy narrative that Roy is constructing. Many parts of the real world cross over and feed into the fantasy, including numerous characters from around the hospital and much of Roy’s troubled past, which has led him to a depressed suicidal state. Roy utilises the fantasy to convey his sorrow over the loss of his girlfriend to a successful, wealthy film star.

Simply put, The Fall is visually breathtaking, with and incredible array of landscapes, costumes and characters, and all with an amazing attention to very vivid colours and set pieces. The sheer scale and imagination behind the film’s visual style is much more impressive than many of Hollywood’s more favoured fantasy films.

Tarsem is a master of transitions, dipping in and out of the fantasy story with effortless grace. The strongest of these switches is a subtle fade that takes the viewer from a close-up of a character’s face to a desert landscape laid out in perfect symmetry. Many other times, the characters break through the comfortable fantasy of the story by speaking dialogue from the real world.

Locations from over twenty different countries were used including India, Indonesia, Italy, France and China, which all helps to create an epic landscape where the fantasy tale takes place.

The cast is comprised of relatively unknown actors including Lee Pace as Roy and Catinca Untaru, a Romanian girl who acts the part of Alexandria brilliantly. With only very loosely scripted dialogue Catinca played off the other actors’ lines, which creates a very natural conversational atmosphere.

The Fall is a truly great film and a remarkable story which leaves you hanging on in anticipation to reach the end of both the stories in the real world and the fantasy. On the surface the story plays with the notions of imagination, fantasy, childhood and tales. Underneath, it explores themes of personal pain, fear, rejection and love, with Roy striving to overcome the loss of his ex-girlfriend and Alexandria facing many of her own personal challenges as she unwittingly stumbles into a number of frightening scenes around the hospital.

Although The Fall may have been commercially unsuccessful, it should really be given a chance by everyone, because we all have something to experience in it. It’s a truly remarkable story, which will leave far more than just a few scenes indented in your mind.

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