Combining the use of concepts from surrealism with raw, organic filmmaking, comes Tarsem Singh's The Fall, a film full of psychedelic dream images juxtaposed with a reality that takes place in 1920's LA. In the reality of the film, there is little Alexandria, a Spanish girl with a broken arm, who while spending her idyllic time at hospital, meets Roy, an injured stuntman with a morbid death wish. He tells her stories that combine his fears with her imagination. This setup is both simple and familiar, a quid pro quo between the girl and man – and anyone who remembers The Princess Bride will spot the other influences, but it is this films handling and treatment of familiar concepts in cannily inventive ways, that aids in making The Fall a very rare cinematic novelty.
There is an inexplicable joy in watching this film, a pastiche of images modern and medieval, oriental and occidental, because there is almost nothing synthetic about it, almost unheard of in these times of computer wizardry. I say this not only because I know this now, having subsequently read about it, but also because the film looks the part. There are locations of staggering beauty – palaces in India, baroque bridges in the Czech Republic, the Butterfly Reef in Fiji and numerous other unfamiliar places – all real, like still pictures from an oversized coffee table book, and these become pillars holding the films very natural foundations. If for nothing, these fragments alone, all part of the "epic tale of love and revenge" that Roy tells Alexandria using the people around the hospital as characters, makes the film worth watching. A medieval fantasy crossed with a superhero tale (think League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, without any of the cringe inducing bits) these characters, including one Charles Darwin, form a team that needs to find the evil Governor Odious.
Thematically, the film is a product of people in love with the very act of filmmaking. By the end, we know and share its appreciation of the dynamics of filmmakers, in particular stuntmen, and the black and white sequences that bookend the film, one a hyper visual, almost impossible opening sequence, and the other a montage of stunts from classic Hollywood, affirms that the entire point of the setup is the introduction of a little girl to the world of visual storytelling (and indirectly movies). With its multitude of locations (not sets) and the diversity of its cast (little Alexandria is neither cutesy nor does she speak in manufactured script lines) The Fall is truly beyond characterization. It surpasses the classifications of not only place, but period as well. This is what makes the film timeless. - Faizan Rashid