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 SpikeJonze and David Fincher. The trailer spoils most of its plot twists.The Fall tells the story of Roy, an injured stuntman in early 20th century Hollywood, and Alexandria, an inquisitive 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 was left crippled by his fall.Confined to his hospital bed, Roy has a plan: he begins weaving for Alexandria the most epic adventure 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, each for their own reasons. In exchange for every installment, Alexandria must steal morphine to help Roy overdose on.But Roy has little idea how to talk to young children, and Alexandria is stubborn, barely 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 sinister 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.The end result is a combination of epic fantasy and Scenery Porn, taking its cues from The Wizard of Oz and The Princess Bride. It's not for kids.The Fall won a slew of "Best Picture" awards.It is not based on, 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.
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.
Bittersweet Ending: Both in the reality and in the fantasy. Alexandria will never see Roy again, and Roy is almost certainly permanently crippled, but she thinks he's the stuntman in every film she sees.
Creator Breakdown: Roy, at the end of the story, killing nearly all of the characters off.
Doing It for the Art: Tarsem 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.
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.
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.
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.
Kick the Dog: Roy, upon seeing the finished film learns that the his life-risking fall had been replaced by another stunt.
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.
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).
Rage Against the Author: Roy's story isn't always a happy one, and Alexandria is very young. It gets especially heart-wrenching when Roy's increasing depression and its effect on the story reminds her about her house being burnt down and the death of her father.
Retcon: In-story example: the Masked Bandit was a 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.
Shout Out: The Art Shift after Alexandria falls in the pharmacy, with wooden doctor-puppets taking apart and then reassembling and injured Alexandria doll, closely resembles a contextually similar scene in Frida
Throw It In: Alexandria's unintentional misreading of Roy's note as "Morphin 3" as opposed to "Morphine") was an actual mistake by the actress in rehearsal that was worked into the film as a plot twist.
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.