Visually Stunning, Morally Questionable
Release Date: May 09, 2008
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Audience: Older teens and adults
Runtime: 117 minutes
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Director: Tarsem Singh
Executive Producer: Ajit Singh and Tommy Turthle
Producer: Tarsem Singh
Address Comments To:Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff
421 South Beverly Drive, 8th Floor
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Phone: (310) 789-4710
Fax: (310) 789-4711
In the 1920s, stuntman Roy is recovering in a LA hospital after a stunt gone bad. He meets eight-year-old Alexandria who is in the hospital for a broken arm. The movie is a “story within a story” as Roy entertains Alexandria by telling an epic story of four men who set out to seek revenge against a wicked king. As the story is told and intercut with scenes from the hospital, it becomes clear that Roy lost his girl to the leading man on the last film and is so depressed he wants to commit suicide. By promising to finish the story, Roy manipulates Alexandria to steal morphine from the medicine pantry so he can kill himself. However, she doesn’t steal enough for him to O.D., so he goes into a major depression.
The fantasy story merges with the hospital story as both Roy and Alexandria become characters in both stories. As Roy must face whether he can continue with life, the fantasy becomes more dark and most of the other fantasy characters are killed off, until both stories merge into one.
This movie excels at telling a story in both a visual and unique manner. There are many “story inside a story” movies (PRINCESS BRIDE, SECONDHAND LIONS) but none so brilliantly weave the two stories together. Viewers gain insight into Roy as he changes the fantasy story to reflect what’s going on inside him. Shot in 18 countries, the art direction of both set and costumes is lush, vivid and dazzling. Though the story is linear, missing pieces of plot and characterizations are slowly revealed so that only at the end of the movie do you fully understand the beginning. This is very much an “art film” and not a typical “summer movie.”
There are a few moral aspects to the movie. For instance, Roy tells the young girl he can’t have the characters kiss in the story until they are married. Roy ultimately doesn’t act out revenge in the fantasy story or in real life and proceeds to become a famous stuntman. However, the basic premise is wanting revenge. Roy wants revenge on the leading man who stole his girlfriend, and the fantasy character played by Roy wants revenge on an evil king. Ultimately, he does not take the revenge he desires, but only because of circumstances, not on a moral decision. A fantasy character, The Mystic, is an African tribesman who uses pagan rituals to guide the party of men seeking the king. One of the fantasy men is a young Charles Darwin, who has a pet monkey to whom he talks. When Darwin is about to be killed, he says that “his hide” will bring a good price, meaning that there are people who’d want him dead. One of the nuns in the hospital has sexual relations off screen with a doctor while young Alexandria accidentally observes. In the fantasy story, it is the priest (who is also the chaplain at the hospital) who betrays the hero. Alexandria swipes some communion wafers, thinking they are crackers for snacking. Roy explains that the wafers will save your soul.
In short, THE FALL is a brilliantly written and directed movie that is not as morally brilliant. Thus, caution should be exercised.
THE FALL excels at telling a story in a visual and unique manner. There are many “story inside a story” movies but none so brilliantly weave the two stories together. In this movie, the characters from the hospital are also the characters in the fantasy, and the two stories ultimately merge. However, there are many objectionable elements including very graphic violence and a worldview filled with humanist and pagan thought. Caution should be exercised.