3 Reasons to Watch The Fall

In 2006, director Tarsem Singh released one of the most visually stunning and underrated films of all time. I recently rented and sat down to watch the film after I came across an article recommending a number of visually-stunning films and The Fall was one of them. The film captivated my attention the moment it started. After the film ended, I questioned why the film gained so little attention. The film, for example, contains beautiful and exotic film locations, articulated with amazing camera work.

Although the film was screened in 2006 at festivals, the film was released two years later with a distributor. The Fall takes place at a Los Angeles hospital in the 1920s. The story focuses on an injured stuntman named Roy (played by Lee Pace) as he narrates an epic story to a little girl with a broken arm named Alexandria (played by Catinca Untaru). The story chronicles the events of five heroes (the ex-slave, the Indian, the explosive expert, the English naturalist, and the Black Bandit) on their individual search for revenge against the infamous Governor Odious. As he narrates the story, Roy gradually forms an unlikely friendship with Alexandria. However, damaged by his near-fatal movie accident and his lover’s betrayal, Roy tempts with the idea of ending his life. Therefore, during intervals in his story, Roy asks Alexandria to retrieve morphine from the hospital’s pharmacy. As the story unfolds, fantasy and reality merge, revealing to Alexandria how much is at stake.

3. Costumes

The Five Heroes
The Five Heroes

When Roy meets Alexandria, he learns that she has never seen a movie; therefore, when she visualizes the epic tale, she images the story in a vibrant and colorful way. The film features beautiful and elaborate costumes designed by Eiko Ishioka. Since most of the film revolves around the epic tale, this allows Eiko Ishioka creative license over the costumes designs.

For the costumes, Ishioka uses vibrant colors to reveal their character traits. The English naturalist (known as Charles Darwin), for example, dresses in white, representing his reflective nature. As a naturalist, Charles Darwin studies the behavior of plants and different species. On top of his white clothing, Charles Darwin wears a black and red coat, symbolizing his life-long search for a rare species of butterfly known as the Americana Exotica. Luigi, the explosive expert, wears yellow to reveal his optimistic and cheery attitude. On the back of yellow robe, there is red figure in the shape of fire, evoking his obsessive desire for explosives and setting things on fire.

Sister Evelyn
Sister Evelyn

The Indian dresses in emerald green robes. The color relates to stability and endurance, encouraging persistence. For the Indian, he vows revenge on General Odious because he caused the death of his wife. Although finding Governor Odious proves to be tedious, the Indian continues his search. The Black Bandit wears black to convey his mysterious personality. In addition, his costume features a red eye mask and yellow embroidery across his chest, reflecting a militaristic style. The color red, in the Black Bandit’s case, represents his strong and powerful energy. Not only does the red represent his energy, but the color indicates his leadership skills. During the heroes’ quest to locate Governor Odious, they encounter Sister Evelyn, the Black Bandit’s love interest.When the heroes’ first meet Sister Evelyn, she also wears red, but the representation is different. Red can also awaken deep and intimate passions within people, which, in this case, stimulates the Black Bandit.

2. Cinematography

Chand Baori in Abhaneri, Rajasthan India is just one of the many filming locations for The Fall
Chand Baori in Abhaneri, Rajasthan India is just one of the many filming locations for The Fall

Currently, films depend on the use of CGI, demonstrating the latest techniques in technology and entertaining audiences with computer modified special effects. The Fall, however, relies on their film locations to stun audiences. Colin Watkinson provided the film’s breathtaking cinematography. At the start of the film, for example, audiences witness Roy’s accident. Rather than use color, Watkinson relies on depicting the event of Roy’s accident in black and white, suggesting a flashback or memory. Watkinson relies on presenting the event in slow motion, creating a dramatic effect.

Because the heroes’ pursue Governor Odious, Watkinson shows them traveling to exotic locations. In the director’s commentary, Singh states that the film was filmed over a period of four years, shooting in over 20 countries. As the heroes’ search for the Governor Odious, a montage allows audiences to view the cities the heroes travel through such as the Li River in Guangzi Province in China, Inkawasi Island in Tupiza, Bolivia, and the Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom, Cambodia.

Watkinson produces astounding visuals, creating beautiful imagery. For the Indian, he vows to find Governor Odious for the death of his wife. Roy narrates the tale of the Indian whose beautiful wife is kidnapped by Governor Odious. Although the Indian’s wife refuses the Governor’s advances, Governor Odious punishes her by sending her to the Labyrinth of Despair, a maze so complex that the Indian’s wife realizes that death is the only escape. The scene is filmed at Jantar Mantar in the Indian city Jaipur, Rajasthan, which is the largest stone observatory in the world. Through camera angles, Watkison was able to create an never-ending labyrinth. Rather than relying on special effects, the film uses real locations from around the world. When watching the film, keep in mind that no CGI was used.

1. Roy and Alexandria

"We're a strange pair, aren't we?"
“We’re a strange pair, aren’t we?”

The relationship between Roy and Alexandra is sacred: together they create a world. Audiences observe the story through Alexandria’s perspective; however, as Roy’s depression worsens, the story becomes darker. While the film contains beautiful cinematography, the heart of the film resides in the blossoming friendship between Roy and Alexandria. As Roy continues to narrate his epic story, the friendship between Roy and Alexandria develops into something genuine and pure.

Roy is depressed after an accident leaves him paralyzed and heartbroken after his lover leaves him for an actor. In one particular scene, Alexandria shares a communion wafer with Roy. Roy asks Alexandria whether she is trying to save him. Although she does not understand the question, Alexandria does successfully save Roy. She speaks with innocence, bringing joy for Roy. Essentially, the story is about love and redemption. Roy struggles with his depression, yet Alexandria’s love for Roy gives him hope.

Although Roy is depressed about his life, Alexandria is there to remind him that life is still beautiful. With its stunning costumes, brilliant camera work, and authentic acting between Roy and Alexandria, Tarsem Singh creates a magnificent and expressive film. The Fall is a story within a story that is brilliantly told and should not be missed. Watching The Fall is an unforgettable experience that will leave audiences fascinated and enthralled.

Works Cited

“Color Psychology to Empower and Inspire You.” Color Psychology. n.p. n.d. Web.

“The Fall: Film Locations.” Blogspot. Blogspot. n.d. Web.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Contributing writer for The Artifice.
Edited by Jordan.

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  1. I loved it ,a masterpiece perhaps it is certainly a brilliant peace of work.

  2. I watched it about a week ago and it immediately became one of my favorites.

  3. I really love this film. It’s lavish, unique, soulful storytelling. It got good reviews from critics. I think Roger Ebert called it a masterpiece. The only reason I can think of for it not being more popular is that it must have barely missed appealing to a lot of different kinds of movie-fans. It isn’t family-friendly or simple enough for kids to really enjoy. It isn’t hard-core enough for fantasy-adventure or action fans. It isn’t straight-faced or “normal” enough to be appreciated by those who like conventional drama. It’s a bizarre and beautiful hybrid of a kind that only a small percentage of the film-going public can truly enjoy. I’ve seen it about ten times now and it always gets me. It’s a movie-lover’s movie.

    • Sydney Adler

      I’m assuming it’s because they didn’t know who to market it towards. The serious film crowd, the teen market, children? It has so many layers to it that finding an audience to target was probably considered too much hard work. I love this film though, I can’t believe it’s been so widely missed for so long.

  4. S.A. Takacs

    I haven’t seen this movie but based on your article, it sounds very interesting. The storytelling aspect in particular sounds fascinating. I’ll definitely have to check out this movie.

  5. Vic Millar

    The core relationship didn’t leave a huge emotional impact on me, but I loved the visuals and was especially big on the silent cinema stunt montage at the end. Tarsem’s Immortals had the same effect on me – I loved the visuals (even the bloody violence had a certain grace to it), but it still felt cold and emotionless. Never saw Mirror Mirror but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same thing. The Fall is definitely the closest he has come to depth and emotion as a director, but it still fell a little short for me. I’ll have to revisit soon and see if I respond to it more after reading your article.

  6. I adore this movie. I think its so wonderful. The relationship between Alexandria and Roy in particular resonated the most for me. I really liked your insights on cinematography. Well done!

  7. I had just seen it and I was like this movie is really cool I normaly don’t watch these type of films but this was amazing.

  8. Jacque Venus Tobias

    Amanda thank you for writing about this film. I am not familiar with it and from your description I believe it is a film I must see.

  9. Thank you for the article. I’m always looking for some new (and often old) pieces of work to study and enjoy. I’m going to have to take a look at this one.

  10. Sounds like a beautiful film! I’ll have to watch it soon!

  11. Tarsem Singh has always been an interesting director. He’s been a visual guy for most of his directorial career, but not really heavy on the story side.(At least he’s not Synder.) This sounds more story driven then his other films. This piece makes me wish I watched it on netflix before they took it down.

  12. While I’m not a big fan of Tarsem Singh’s work, The Fall has always looked really cool. Your article pretty much sealed the deal 🙂

  13. Melissa Wyatt

    This has become my favorite film of all time, and I’m staggered by its initially poor critical reception. I think it speaks a symbolic language that may be fading in our culture and that was why it was dismissed by so many as all visuals and no substance when it has great depth of heart. My lengthy exploration of why the critics were wrong here:


  14. “Currently, films depend on the use of CGI, demonstrating the latest techniques in technology and entertaining audiences with computer modified special effects.”

    This is a real shame; writing is the substance of the work.

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