Ten years ago this week The Cell and Immortals director Tarsem released a film called The Fall, a gorgeous spectacle of cinema that gets zero recognition, even with its deep tie-ins to the beginning of film itself. To explain the plot loosely, the film’s main setting is a hospital in the 1920s where a film stuntman, with extensive injuries played by Lee Pace, lies in a bed. There he forms a bond with a young girl nursing a broken arm with a fantasy story of five mythical heroes on a legendary quest. The story keeps his mind focused on something beyond his excruciating pain and unlock her vivid imagination as, through her mind, we see the story play before our eyes.
One thing that is consistent in all of Tarsem’s films, even the understated thriller Self/Less, is his visual flare and his broad scope of color. We owe this, at least for this film, to cinematographer Colin Watkinson and art director Lisa Hart for their close collaboration with Tarsem to make our main man’s story so textured that you feel immersed in it. Watkinson is now known for his extensive work on The Handmaid’s Tale, a massive hit that speaks for itself so you can see his appeal to Tarsem in retrospect. Hart was and still is very new to the top tier art direction but The Fall should be the jewel on her resume just for the sheer scale of it.
Looking at the film, you would swear that the CG budget would be large but according to the director it was all done very practical, which is hugely impressive. Largely shot with his own money in 28 different countries over four years without the jus using pre-existing locations, The Fall is a real landmark of a film that gets no recognition. The only great thing to come out of it came within the industry when Peter Jackson cast Lee Pace in his Hobbit movies based on his performance but, at the video store level I was in at the time, this was a widely recommended movie. My hope is that maybe, just maybe, someone reading this will head to iTunes, Amazon or eBay to shell out some money for an inspiringly gorgeous exercise in storytelling.