21 May 2009

"The Fall"

When Roger Ebert describes a movie as "one of the most extraordinary films I've ever seen," I pay attention. This isn't a new movie, but I missed it when it was released in 2006. Apart from Ebert the film received mixed reviews, summarized at Wiki.

Here are the aspects that fascinate me, as explained by Ebert:
Tarsem, for two decades a leading director of music videos and TV commercials, spent millions of his own money to finance "The Fall," filmed it for four years in 28 countries and has made a movie that you might want to see for no other reason than because it exists. There will never be another like it.

The story framework for the imagery is straightforward. In Los Angeles, circa 1915, Roy, a silent movie stunt man (Lee Pace) has his legs paralyzed while performing a reckless stunt. He [is] happy to make a new friend of a little girl named Alexandria (Catinca Untaru).

Roy tells a story to Alexandria, involving adventurers who change appearance as quickly as a child's imagination can do its work…. Roy draws out the story for a personal motive; after Alexandria brings him some communion wafers from the hospital chapel, he persuades her to steal some morphine tablets from the dispensary. Paralyzed and having lost his great love (she is the Princess in his story), he hopes to kill himself...

Who is this Tarsem? Full name, Tarsem Singh Dhabdwar. Last name too hard for Americans to say. Millions of Indians have the middle name "Singh." Therefore, Tarsem. Born in India, his family moved to Iran when he was three, but his father was concerned the mullahs would destroy education there, so he sent his two sons to a boarding school in the Himalayas.

"For seven years wherever I would shoot a commercial I would send people out with a camera to schools, and one day I got a tape of this girl at a school in Romania, in the middle of students talking. I was amazed. She was perfect. She didn't speak English... And we taught her the English of her lines, word by word. She would say them, and if she didn't get it right in three or four takes, we changed her dialog because she needed to sound spontaneous, not rehearsed."
Embedded above is one of the trailers for the movie (music from Beethoven's seventh symphony). I'm enchanted by the images in the trailer, including the use of the stepwell at Chand Baori. There are other trailers and clips from the movie at YouTube and a higher-definition version at the movie's website and here. Also at the movie website is a gallery of photos for those unable or unwilling to view videos on their computer.

The movie doesn't appear to be in theaters now. I'm #228 on our local library's wait list for the DVD - will give you an update after I see the movie. I've only ever recommended three movies in TYWKIWDBI before seeing them; the first was Wall-E, and the second Benjamin Button. I hope this one turns out to be as good as I anticipate. The plot summary sounds like the equivalent of The English Patient Crosses The Bridge to Terabitha - but that would be o.k. with me.

Addendum: reposted because I finally got the DVD from the library after a five-month wait. This is an excellent movie. I'll give it a 4+ rating. If a 6-year-old girl could win a Best Actress Oscar, I would award it to this young lady for her performance. I plan to watch it again tomorrow with the director's and actors' comments. (addendum - the actors' comments tended to be superficial and trivial; director's comments were better, but nothing really special.)


  1. http://www.megavideo.com/?v=XZBEY5GS

  2. I LOVE this movie. My friend and I rented it and watched it late last year.

  3. I saw this movie by pure accident at a movie theater, and I absolutely fell in love with it. It might be the most beautiful movie I've ever seen.

  4. Rented this via Netflix, just sent it back yesterday. Beautiful, awesome movie!!!

  5. Watched it last night. Interesting movie, great actress. A bit more violence than I expected (We let our child watch it with us)

  6. The movie had its moments, but was highly "uneven" at best- certainly not in the league of a Pan's Labyrinth that delivered both on storyline and grand visuals.


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