In the world of movie reviews, there is none as accomplished and as brilliant as Roger Ebert. However, when asked about the film entitled The Fall he said that this movie was almost impossible to describe (Garrett 1). The film was directed by Tarsem Singh, and the actors Lee Pace and Catinca Untaru were in the lead roles. One can argue that the film belongs to a special category. If one breaks down film review using the following aspects:
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- costume design; and
- screenplay, this film is a great example of excellent filmmaking.
It was no exaggeration on Roger Ebert’s part when he said that words were not enough to describe this movie. One of the major features of the film that sets it apart from others is on how it combined the complexity of an art film and the easy accessibility of a conventional love story. Tarsem Singh’s film captured the imagination of moviegoers by combining the power of fantastic production designs and excellent cinematography that were both interwoven into a heartwarming story of salvation.
The story begins like any ordinary film, especially when it comes to the need to establish the setting of the story. According to Roger Ebert, the story’s main framework was anchored on a hospital setting. This hospital was located in Los Angeles in the year 1915 (RogerEbert.com 1). Thus, it is easy to understand the fact that filmmakers and Hollywood actors were seen a couple of times during the course of the storytelling. In fact, Roy the story’s main character was a Hollywood stuntman. The movie reveals that Roy, the character played by Lee Pace was convalescing in an almost deserted hospital. There were only a few patients, but one of them was a Romanian girl named Alexandria. Her character was played by an amazing newcomer named Catinca Untaru (The Fall).
At first glance, it seems like an ordinary period film that attempted to showcase what life was like during the time when Hollywood was creating silent films and hospitals were managed by religious organizations. However, things began to turn into a complicated narrative when Roy befriended the young girl.
Drawing a lonely girl into this web of storytelling magic was not a difficult task for the charismatic but injured stuntman. Roy was unable to stand on his own two feet, because of an accident that he suffered while filming his new movie. It was revealed later on that this accident was due in large part to Roy’s desire to impress a girl that he loved with all his heart.
As mentioned earlier, this film succeeded in mesmerizing audiences all over the world because of stunning visuals, fantastic production designs, and amazing storytelling that was anchored on a heartwarming story of redemption. This was made possible by three things: 1) beautifully photographed scenes; 2) unpredictable narrative; and 3) a plot that was accessible to the average moviegoer so that there was no need to become an art film fanatic to enjoy the film.
In the course of watching the film it was difficult to ignore a recurring thought, that somehow, the director was an experienced creator of short films or TV commercials. This realization came about because of the cinematography or the use of light and colors that were similar to the well-made brand commercials on TV shows (Art of Title 1). Directors with long-term experience creating TV commercials bring a different type of movie making skill when creating full length feature films.
One of the things that stood out in the movie was the director’s commitment to focus on the detail in the set. This is a common trait for TV commercial creators, because in this context they only have 30 seconds or less to capture the interest of their target audience. In a conventional film, a director has at least an hour to engage the moviegoers, however, in TV commercials they had to connect with the audience in less than a minute. It did not come as a surprise to find out that Tarsem Singh is one of the most successful directors when it comes to creating brand commercials (Resha 245).
The film’s success is also based on its unpredictable narrative. When Alexandria settled down to hear an epic of a story, the audience expected to hear a familiar pattern, until a twist in the plot reminded them that this is not an ordinary film. Those who expected to find a traditional storytelling framework were surprised to discover that Roy was not an ordinary storyteller, because he manipulated the young girl to steal for him.
It was not only the numerous twists in the plot that made the film’s storytelling process unique. According to Ebert, the complex narrative was made possible by the way the images came about because of Roy’s storytelling, and Alexandria’s imagination (1). If this was not enough to keep the audience on the edge, the climax of the film presented a tug of war between Roy as the narrator and Alexandria as the builder of the fantasy world.
Even if the said movie failed in the storytelling department, the saving grace was the stunning visuals that were on display from beginning to end. According to a film critic’s review: “Tarsem Singh is in love with spectacular landscapes and architecture, and in all of his films the costumes of the late Japanese designer Eiko Ishioka dominate every scene” (Ebert 395). Fortunately, moviegoers were treated to a heartwarming and yet unconventional love story.
This movie was not about a young man in love with a young girl. This movie was about a broken man who contemplated suicide. Nevertheless, at the end of the story, he experienced redemption through the unconditional love of a young girl. One of the most memorable moments in the film was the heart-to-heart talk between Roy and Alexandria. Holding the eucharist, Roy asked her: “Are you trying to save my soul? (The Fall).
Alexandria saved him by doing two things. First, Alexandria made him realize that the girl of his dream was not in love with him. Thus, Roy was able to move on with his life. Secondly, Alexandria made him understand the beauty of unconditional love, the pure love of a child. Thus, Roy did not push through with his plan to commit suicide.
It is not easy to find a movie that can compare to Tarsem Sing’s creation entitled The Fall. Stunning visuals and magnificent cinematography made it worthwhile to go out and see the said movie. However, there was more to this movie than fantastic landscapes and great production designs. One of the most understated achievements of this film was the fact that it did not require the taste of art film enthusiast to enjoy this movie. The director was able to combine the impact of eye-popping visuals and a heartwarming story that demonstrated the power of a child’s unconditional love.
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Art of Title. The Fall. 2016. Web.
Ebert, Roger. Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbook: 2013. Kansas, MO: Andrew McMeel Publishing, 2012. Print.
Garrett, Daniel. Liberation of Mind, Spirit and Vision. 2008. Web.
Resha, David. The Cinema of Errol Morris. Middletown, CT: The Wesleyan University Press, 2015. Print.
RogerEbert.com. The Fall. 2015. Web.
The Fall. Dir. Tarsem Singh. Perf. Lee Pace and Catinca Untaru. Radical Media. 2006. DVD.