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The Fall

A movie directed by Tarsem Singh

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Seeds of Scheherazade

  • Mar 28, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+5
THE FALL is one of the more stunningly beautiful cinematic works to be created in recent years. Vibrant young director Tarsem Singh, born in India and trained at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, produced, directed and wrote (with Dan Gilroy, Nico Soultanakis, and Valery Petrov) this magical tale that blends fantasy, illusion, dreams, and altered reality with one of the more touching stories imaginable. The film takes many risks and for this viewer they all work. With only one other film ('The Cell') in his bag, this splendid work signals the arrival of a new Dali/Fellini/Bunuel figure in cinema.

The setting is a hospital in Los Angeles sometime in the 1920s where a little immigrant girl Alexandria (the amazing Romanian child actress Catinca Untaru) is recovering from a broken arm. She waders the hospital looking for something to help her while away the hours and comes upon a kind patient Roy Walker (Lee Pace) who has been through numerous operations and is addicted to morphine. The two form a friendship through Roy's willingness to weave stories for Alexandria (much in the same vein as Scheherazade) and in Roy's stories the various patients and personnel of the hospital take on fantasy roles: there are five men (including Roy as the Blue Bandit) who are attempting to kill Governor Odious (Daniel Caltagirone) - Darwin (Leo Bill), the Mystic (Julian Bleach), Otta Benga (Marcus Wesley) and other fascinating characters. How the stories intertwine with Roy and Alexandria as friends and as victim of morphine abuse and supplier of the drug makes for a complex, multifaceted adventure that takes place in beautiful, strange locales throughout the world. How the relationship between Roy and Alexandria develops amidst all the surreal tales is the focus of the film.

The cinematography (Colin Wilkinson), costumes (Eiko Ishioka) and musical score (Krishna Levy) enhance the beauty of the film, as does the transition into the creation of silent movies that opens and closes the film. There is more in this little film than one viewing could ever completely reveal. Visit it once and become as addicted to the magic as was the king to Scheherazade's endless tales. Grady Harp, March 09

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October 06, 2010
Excellent observation an din retrospect very astute! Thanks for taking the time to share this. Grady
 
October 05, 2010
Thanks for the information about Mr. Singh's career and I agree with your assessment. One thing though, Roy isn't addicted to morphine. He uses Alexandria to get him the meds for suicide not for another fix. This is not a minor point because the motive Roy has for telling the story shapes just how dark/redeeming the story is. If he put Alexandria at risk just for another fix, that makes him heartless and beyond redemption. But his real motives were far more muddy and his responsibility less absolute which is what makes the story as emotionally compelling as the visuals make it a joy to watch.
 
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More The Fall reviews
review by . June 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     It's so typical of most critics to attack a film that shows them something that they have never seen before. Critics claim that they understand what the term "art" really means, but is this so true? The purpose of art is to divide opinions. Or at least I believe that is one of its purposes. So maybe it is understandable that a very large amount of critics would dislike a film as bewildering as "The Fall". But is the purpose of art not to also entertain through …
Quick Tip by . October 14, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This quick tip is tied to my list of movies driven by strong child actors/characters.      Catinca Untaru was 11 during the filming for this brilliant movie.  She stands toe to toe (there is a silly pun here if you've seen the film) with veteran Lee Pace to create an amazing fable that wows and crushes.      More than one reviewer has said that Ms Untaru wasn't acting her part, she was living it.  I sincerely hope it is the former because …
review by . October 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   The Fall is a tale of magical realism told by a suicidal stuntman to a young migrant girl as both convalesce in a Los Angeles hospital.      Alexandria (11 or 12) throws a letter out a window—it is intended for a nurse. The wind blows it into Roy’s bed (Roy is in his early 20s). The pair meet when she goes to retrieve the letter.      He apparently injured his back doing a nearly impossible stunt, so he is bed ridden. Alexandria broke …
review by . November 04, 2009
This is probably the most visually intriguing movie that I have seen in years, if not ever. This fact is quite remarkable considering that the director Tarsem Singh has hardly used any special effects, but has rather opted to rely heavily on imaginative costumes and elaborate and exotic locations which were enhanced with the stunning cinematography. The movie tells a story of a 1920s stuntman who falls off a horse while filming a particularly daring scene. While recovering in a hospital, he befriends …
review by . September 20, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
A troubled young man, recuperating from a suicidal stunt and a broken heart, meets a precocious little girl with a broken arm. He begins to tell her a story, but is secretly intending to use her to get morphine that will allow him to take his own life.     The Fall is one of those rare films that is both a unique work of cinematic art and a crowd-pleasing gem. It is both beautiful to look at and has depth that is not apparent on a first viewing. For beauty and depth and for its …
review by . July 09, 2008
I remember the days when I had stories read to me. I remember how it made me feel. Me and about twenty other kids would gather at the teacher's feet, and I would actually imagine the story unfolding as she read aloud. I think we all have those memories buried somewhere within, those wonderful moments when the spoken word transcends mere speech and becomes a definite vision. Tarsem's "The Fall" works in much the same way, not only for the characters, but also for the audience; reality and fantasy …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Wiki

Roger Ebert proclaimed it "one of the most extraordinary films I've ever seen," and there's no denying the avalanche of wild images inThe Fall: grand castles, desert vistas, elephants swimming in the open ocean. Commercial and music-video director Tarsem has piled these visions into an elaborate remake of an obscure Bulgarian film, Yo Ho Ho, which is anchored in (but by no means limited to) a quiet hospital during the silent-movie era. A stunt man (Lee Pace) is laid up with leg injuries, and an eye-popping black-and-white prologue (utterly mystifying while we're watching it) tells us how he got here. Depressed over his disability and a recent lost love, he plans suicide, but is temporarily derailed by the inquisitive friendship of a little girl (Catinca Untaru), to whom he tells wild stories of adventurers and princesses. We see these stories, which is where the dizzying visuals come in. This movie probably won't inspire many lukewarm responses: either you'll fall madly for this paean to storytelling magic, or you'll be suspicious about the parade of pretty pictures, which tend to have a magazine-layout sheen. The movie certainly has more soul than Tarsem's yucky previous feature,The Cell, and the scenes between Pace and Untaru (who scores an 11 on the cuteness scale) are genuinely charming. The director actually put a considerable amount of his own money into the production (which shot in over 20 countries), and whether you buy his ...
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Details

Cast: Lee Pace
Director: Tarsem Singh
DVD Release Date: September 9, 2008
Runtime: 117 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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