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The Fall (2008)

Directed by Tarsem Singh Based on Yo Ho Ho screenplay by Valeri Petrov  Screenplay by Dan Gilroy, Tarsem Singh & Nico Soultanakis

   While this film was based on another screenplay the main difference was that the 1981 version used a little boy whereas this film used a little girl. This film was also shot in over 18 countries, covering 26 locations, taking a couple of years to complete. We begin with a sort of slow motion scene intertwined within the title sequence showing an accident having occurred a top a bridge as they pull a horse from the river leading us to Los Angeles: Once upon a time in the 20’s on a movie set.

We are taken inside a hospital (which was actually an active mental hospital) where we find Alexandria (Catinca Untaru) taking a note having wrote and attempting to pass it along to Nurse Evelyn (Justine Waddell). Unable to retrieve the letter after letting it fly out a window, she sets off in search of where it landed. Her quest leading her into a separate room where she meets Roy (Lee Pace) and snatches back her property, exchanging in some playful banter, saying her writing was not gibberish like he thought. In an effort to converse Roy captures the little girl’s attention by telling a story that involves the contents of the box she carried around with her. **The hospital sequences being shot in sequence, trying to make everything as real as possible for the young actress**

   Pressing on to hear more about the story Roy teased with, he begins telling a tale of Alexander the Great but are soon interrupted and he asks her to return the next day so as to continue the story. Taking note that as Roy tells the story the people around the hospital become the characters within. The next day Alexandria overhears a former actor (Robin Smith; later playing Luigi the explosives expert) discussing with Roy the chain of events having led to his stay in the hospital. As we learn of the bridge from the opening sequence having been the one he leaped off when discovering the love of his life had done wrong by him.

  Because the film is separated into two parts: that of the story and then that of which Roy and Alexandria’s time in the hospital, I’ll explain the just of each individually so as to not take too much away from the film. The tale follows 5 individuals each on a quest to do whatever it takes to stop Governor Odious who has done wrong to each of them.

~an ex-slave named Otta Benga (Marcus Wesley) whose brother had been worked to death swearing revenge as he released the rest of the slaves

~the Indian (Jeetu Verma) of whom had his wife kidnapped by Odious, eventually condemning her to the labyrinth of despair having no way out and eventually taking her own life as the only means of escape

~Luigi played by Smith whose crazy explosives had him banished from his town with the threat of their life being taken had anyone laid eyes upon him

~the english naturalist/Charles Darwin (Leo Bill) who upon searching for a rare butterfly (Americana Exotica) had received an already dead one from the governor, breaking his heart in the process

~the masked bandit who is unable to swim (the 5 of them being stuck on an island) whose vengeance is brought on by having escaped execution from the Governor separating him from his brother in search of where he may be

   Darwin gets the idea of using elephants to cross to land. Their soon joined by a man implanted within a tree whose fighting skills seem to be the last piece needed to storm the gate. However theyfind the masked bandit’s brother having been hung by the chandelier. Alexandria questioning the masked bandits accent resulting in Roy replacing himself as the character. Following the man emerged from the tree earlier to “greener pastures” they embark on a tribe as they perform a captivating ritual putting any map to shame as they show Darwin the way to travel next. Believing to be on the right path they come face to face with Odious’s carriage as Sister Evelyn emerges, and they take her with them on their quest. Sharing a bit of intimate conversation the masked bandit reveals himself to the princess, declaring his love for her stating that he was motivated by revenge but not someone who could be loved. Stating that she too loved him but had been engaged to Governor Odious. His response being that he would have to kill her but his try is unsuccessful. Which is when the story begins mixing with what was currently happening to Roy. He had gotten a hold of a bottle of Morphine pills taking the bottles worth. Betrayed and left in the desert to be tortured the group is met with the arrival of a new character in the story. It seems the masked bandit had a daughter who assisted in the groups escape. Though unable to awaken Roy from the slumber of which had taken him captive.

   Roy ultimately taking advantage of the young girl briefly stopping in between the story as it gets to the “interesting and beautiful” parts. Always to inquire if she could read English and do him a favor of retrieving the pills to help him sleep. The next day seeing Doctor’s wheel someone out on a gurney of which she grows worried and rushes to Roy’s room. Pulling him out of his sleep in which it takes multiple staff members to subdue him as he doesn’t react lightly. A worried Alexandria cannot sleep knowing her new friend is in pain as she tries to steal more pills for him, falling off a ladder in the process. What follows next is a deranged collage showing different types of situations involving people losing their leg and breath-taking cut scenes with Alexandria’s voice heard in the back. Using dolls and weaving imagery of the operation she endures. The tables having turned with Roy now at Alexandria’s side, finishing the story in an intimate and heart wrenching scene as he becomes increasingly cruel killing off the other members of the group. Explaining that there were no happy endings, emotionally abandoning the only person who had talked with him in his time of need.

   Final Thoughts: A film best watched twice to perhaps fully grasp what occurs and no, I did not give away the ending by any means. But if that doesn’t at least spark an interest in what occurs, I’m not sure what will. Lee Pace first came onto the big screen in Showtime’s Soldier’s Girl; a stunning debut performance by the way. Pace has tantalizing androgynous looks able to fuse with complete professionalism and an enduring personality. I have yet to see him on-screen and not like his work. The relationship between Pace and Untaru was entirely genuine. As an added effect Pace and Tarsem assisted each other in fooling the cast into believing him to be a true paraplegic. Tarsem wanted to have as authentic performance doing numerous takes and putting the young actress under a fair amount of stress. Due to her not always being aware of what she should be doing, eventually emerging as an overall adorable child and okay, I loved her accent. However each contributed to an overall beautiful tale helping Tarsem achieve yet another overall beautiful film that was magnificently edited.