Monday, May 12, 2008

The Fall: a different sort of Fantasy movie

Everyone in the world is going to see Iron Man, Speed Race, Indiana Jones, Chronicles of Narnia, The Hulk, etc., etc. this year, but I want to encourage you to seek wout another movie that is every bit as visually inventive, fascinating, and fantastic as any of those movies want to be: The Fall.

The Fall is about the relationship that develops between a young girl and a man who tells her a story. They are both in a hospital, having suffered injuries from falls. The girl has a broken arm from picking oranges, and the man is paralyzed from the waist down from a stunt accident while making a movie. The man starts to tell a fascinating adventure story that draws the girl in, and a friendship grows between them,. The film takes place around the turn of the century, when movies were just getting started, and the story the man tells takes place in an adventure-fantasy world, and is seen visualized through the eyes of the child, who interprets everything through what she knows, her family, the people in the hospital etc. However as the story develops, the man's depression and pain starts to be revealed.

The images are truly fantastic in this film. The production traveled all over the world to find sites to shoot, and they found some amazing, surreal locations. If there is any use of CGI, it is subtle and used to show things that would simply be too dangerous or difficult to convincingly show in real film.

The story told by the man is of an adventure in which an escaped slave, an Indian warrior, Luigi the Explosives Expert, Charles Darwin and his companion monkey Wallace, a primitive mystic, and a masked bandit go on a quest to exact revenge on the evil Governor Odious for wrongs he has done them. The adventure takes them to amazing places and they do amazing things, all within their characters.

The view of the story through the girl's eyes is fascinating. While the hospital is in California, and the storyteller is American, the girl is apparently from India, and her interpretations are thus drawn form what she is familiar with. One of the most blatant examples is the “Indian,” which although described by the man as having a wigwam and being married to a squaw, is seen in the mind of the girls as a turbaned, bearded, sword-wielding warrior from the Asian subcontinent.
The title refers to several falls that occur in the movie, those of the two protagonists that put each of them in the hospital, several that occur in the film, and at least one fall of a character's standing in another's eyes. Those who like looking for symbolism will find much to play with there.

This movie was made in 2006 and has taken several years to get an American release. The poster for it is as abstract as parts of the movie may feel, and I fear it may not get many viewers outside cities like New York. It is based on a 1981 Hungarian film called Yo Ho Ho which I now hope to see sometime.

In the midst of all the “Summer Blockbusters” and franchise movies and “Eagerly Anticipated” epics, I hope many, many more people take the time to see this movie. You can get your fill of fancy costumes, spectacular sets, and fantasy concepts, and still have a thoughtful movie worth thinking about that says something about the role of fantasy and friendship in life.

Captain Zorikh