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A 2006 fantasy film by Tarsem Singh, based on the 1981 Bulgarian pirate story "Yo Ho Ho". The film took four years to shoot, in 26 locations in over 18 countries, and was funded by Spike Jonze and David Fincher. The trailer spoils most of its plot twists.
The Fall is the story of Roy, an injured stuntman in the early 1920s, and Alexandria, a 5-year-old girl he befriends during his hospital stay. Roy has a broken heart and a death wish: during his last (and so far only) film, he tried a stunt his fellow stuntmen called downright suicidal, and he was left crippled by his fall.
Unable to leave his hospital bed, Roy has a plan: he begins telling Alexandria the most fantastic bandit story ever told. It stars seven heroes -- The Black Bandit, an Italian, an Indian, a Mystic, the ex-slave Otta Benga, Charles Darwin, and Wallace the Monkey -- on a quest of revenge against the evil Governor Odious.
But Roy has barely any idea how to talk to young children. And Alexandria is stubborn, hardly speaks English, and still lives by the laws of her own child logic. The story Roy tells is seen entirely through Alexandria's eyes: every character (and prop) in Roy's story is imagined by Alexandria as someone (or something) she's seen in daily life. And it quickly becomes clear that her life so far has been extremely traumatizing. Her fantasy world is cute at first, but turns Darker and Edgier as Roy sinks deeper and deeper into depression. Each time Alexandria makes an innocent mistake, Roy punishes her for it by punishing his characters within the tale. Finally, Alexandria decides that the story isn't safe with Roy, and she takes over the narration herself.
Despite winning a slew of "Best Picture" awards, the film only scored mixed-to-positive reviews.
(It's not based off of and should not be confused with the Albert Camus novel of the same name. Nor does it have anything to do with the Post Punk band led by Mark E. Smith also called The Fall. Or with the British film Pride, which came out one year earlier.)
The film provides examples of:
- Acting for Two: Everyone in the story, sometimes very well disguised.
- Anachronism Stew: On purpose. Seeing Odious' car is particularly jarring, signifying the story's finale.
- And You Were There: Every character (and prop) in Roy's story is imagined by Alexandria as someone (or something) she sees in daily life. Particularly noticeable once Roy includes an "Indian" (Native American) in his story - and Alexandria consistently imagines the character being played by her friend from India.
- Annoying Arrows: The ones that kill Ota Benga barely pierce him.
- Author Appeal: Much of the visuals and mythology are based on Indian culture.
- Badass Spaniard: Odious. The Black Bandit starts out at this, until he becomes French.
- Best Served Cold: Most of the plot revolves around this.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: Lee Pace has a very nice pair.
- Big No: Used as a joke at the start, played very, very straight at the end.
- Bilingual Bonus: Catinca Untaru has dialog in her native Romanian.
- Bittersweet Ending: Both in the reality and in the fantasy. Alexandria will never see Roy again, but she thinks he's the stuntman in every film she sees.
- Catch Phrase: "Googly Googly".
- Cool Mask
- Creator Breakdown: Roy, at the end of the story, killing nearly all of the characters off.
- Doing It for the Art: Tarseem funded this mostly with his own money to ensure complete creative control, shot it over multiple continents and locations and used solely practical effects with absolutely no CGI whatsoever.
- Kinda...there was some CGI work done to remove railings and bystanders in some shots, and the butterfly Wallace chases, and the arrows hitting Ota have a CGI look to them. Still, the overwhelming majority of the film was done practically, which is still an amazing achievement.
- The on-location shooting alone needs to be emphasized. There's a short montage that features the Great Wall of China for maybe two frames, and it was shot on-location.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: The Italian blowing himself up to destroy all of the guards.
- Enforced Method Acting: Lee Pace spent 12 weeks of filming in a wheelchair, to convince 7-year-old actress Catinca Untaru that he was crippled (as was his character). He also consistently went by the name of "Roy". For realism's sake, he only told a handful of people on the set that he could walk, and as a result had to be carried around by the crew every day.
- This wasn't as difficult to achieve as it might sound: it was only Pace's second role--and in his first, he played a transgender character--so it was unlikely anyone would recognize him.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Most of the characters.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Subverted.
- Facing the Bullets One-Liner: "Shoot, you animals. They'll pay you well for Darwin's hide."
- Five-Man Band: Trope played to the letter:
- Five-Token Band: Justified.
- The Foreign Subtitle: Released in Spain as The Fall: El Sueno de Alexandria ("The Fall: Alexandria's Dream").
- Foreshadowing: Darwin mentions that the birds are safe inside the Mystic's belly.
- For the Evulz: The only motivation of Governor Odious in the fantasy.
- Framing Device: Exploited to great effect.
- The Indian is clearly Native American by Roy's description but the visual shows him as an undefined Indian royal. The confusion is deliberate. Roy is thinking of an actor he knew while Alexandria is thinking of her friend the orange-picker.
- Fractured Fairy Tale
- Gorn: Used sparingly, but when it's used, it's reeeeal pretty.
- He Also Did: At the time of The Fall's release, director Tarsem Singh was well known for directing the award winning 1991 video for REM's "Losing My Religion".
- Heroic Sacrifice: Just about everyone.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Odious's death.
- Subverted with Roy's plan to make Alexandria get him morphine, which made him became close to her, which in turn made him get past his broken heart and forget his suicide wish.
- Innocent Inaccurate: Alexandria's family pretty clearly had to immigrate to the United States because of a pogrom of some sort - Eastern Europe generally not being the friendliest place in the early 20th century - but when Roy tries to find out more, all she says is that "angry people" were responsible.
- Justified Title: Both Alexandria and Roy are in the hospital because of injuries sustained in falls--and each undergoes a loss of innocence.
- Kill'Em All: At the lowest point of his depression, Roy kills off every single character in the most heartbreaking ways possible, while Alexandria begs him to stop. All we see from him are bitter tears and a stoic expression, but Alexandria imagines his alter ego, the Black Bandit, being very visibly shaken by the deaths. The epilogue is charming, though, which softens the blow.
- Large Ham: The Black Bandit. Justified, though, as it is the imagination of a 5-year-old; Roy is played much more naturally.
- Match Cut: The butterfly fading into the reef and island; the priest's face and collar fading into a desert landscape. The latter one, in particular, is incredibly well-done.
- Meaningful Name: Governor Odious.
- Mooks: Clone after clone after clone of Alexandria's real-life nightmare, the X-ray technician wearing a leather apron, swarming through an M.C. Escher-esque maze (which was not CGI, but filmed at a real place).
- Mysterious Waif: Lady Evelyn.
- Orange-Blue Contrast: The vast majority of scenes. Even the shots that aren't orange/blue are some other equally complementary pairing like red/green.
- Pocket Protector: The locket.
- Promotion to Parent: Alexandria starts calling the Black Bandit "Daddy" after a while. Roy eventually gets mad at her for it.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, II. Allegretto. And it is awesome.
- Rage Against the Author: Roy's story isn't always a happy one, and Alexandria is very young.
- Retcon: In-story example: the Masked Bandit was a Badass Spaniard at first due to Alexandria telling Roy about her father; in fact she imagined him to look like her father. Eventually she asked why he kept speaking in an accent and requested he speak normally. He explained that the Masked Bandit was no longer a Spaniard, but a Frenchman; thus Alexandria imagined him to look like Roy.
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: as part of Roy's Creator Breakdown
- Rule of Cool
- Scenery Porn: AND HOW.
- Scheherezade Gambit: Attempted both by Roy and by Alexandria.
- Sleeper Hit
- Storming the Castle
- Stuff Blowing Up: Well, one of the characters in the story-within-the-story is an explosives and ballistics expert.
- Tagalong Kid: Alexandria, in-story.
- Taking You with Me: The Indian and Luigi. Ka-boom indeed.
- You Killed My Father: And brother (the brother was attempting to revenge their father's death). And wife, and butterfly, and... yeah, this is most of the motivation for the main characters, in fact.
- The Voiceless: The Indian only speaks one or two words during the whole movie. He speaks when he cuts the rope (killing himself and a handful of the mooks), saying "Up!" (according to the subtitles). Ota Benga is almost this.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The Princess's nephew, left behind at the carriage.
- The World Is Just Awesome: Just take in any of the scenery.
- X Meets Y: The Princess Bride meets Axe Cop.