Tarsem’s The Fall is possibly one of the best films ever made. And I’m not just talking about the mind exploding visuals, this re-make of a little seen Bulgarian film entitled Yo Ho Ho directed by Valeri Petrov, is very beautiful: in art and soul.
The film, shot in over 20 countries around the globe, and took over 4 years to make, concerns a Hollywood stuntman named Roy (Lee Pace), who in a silly attempt to impress a girl, jumps off a bridge riding a horse…and ends up breaking his back; and the girl breaks his heart by running off with the leading man.
In a Los Angeles hospital, Roy befriends a five year old misfit with a broken arm named Alexandria (Catinca Untaru). In a cunning attempt to provide him with morphine pills with which he wishes to end his life, he tells Alexandria a story about five heroes in a mythical land who are out to revenge themselves against the evil Governor Odious. Alexandria, hooked by the story ventures off to fetch the pills little realising the tragedy in Roy’s heart. As the story progresses and a friendship blooms, little Alexandria acts as Roy’s saviour in the darkest of times.
Tarsem Singh is a music video and commercials director…but he’s also a maverick film director. His debut, the rubbish Jennifer Lopez-starring The Cell, had amazing set designs and costumes…but had a dreadful story.
In his second feature, he chose not to compromise and raised the money mostly from taking commercials and music videos and plowing them into a personal movie. Tarsem saw the Bulgarian original, and saw something he identified with, but make better.
To say there are jaw-dropping moments in this film is a great understatement. Far from being an aesthetic exercise in beautiful long shots, this film packs more heart and brilliantly nuanced performances than most films could ever dream of managing.
The opening title sequence is a bit too slick, but the scene of an elephant swimming underwater is something I’d never even dream of seeing in a movie…that’s real and not CGI shows the imagination and sense of challenge enjoyed by Tarsem Singh.
On its release, this film received mixed reviews. Talk about short-sightedness…it is a masterpiece in every way imaginable.
© BRWC 2010.
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