Saturday, September 13, 2008

THE FALL (Tarsem Singh, 2006, USA) The power of myth to restructure the world, the love of an innocent child; both can help us to see beauty through the veil of despair. Director Tarsem Singh takes us on an odyssey through the imagination of a crippled stuntman, addicted to morphine, and a little girl whom he befriends. Roy Walker (who only walks in “make-believe”) is a paraplegic who, while bedridden in a hospital, manipulates Alexandria into bringing him drugs; he’ll reveal more of his improvised fantasy epic if she’ll steal the pills, just like his mythological Masked Bandit. She naively agrees and as he sinks deeper into depression the story becomes infused with malignancy. Tarsem films in mind-blowing oversaturated colors and beautiful vistas, capturing the unreal within numerous deep focus compositions. This fantastic vision contrasts the subdued colors of the hospital and Roy’s self-destructive spiral, and it’s only the childlike innocence and wisdom of a little girl that saves him. But you must excavate the layers beneath the vivid stratum: Tarsem is showing us how stories can remake our lives, how fiction reveals more of the human spirit than a hardened reality, and how we manipulate both for our own benefit…or bane. Alexandria unknowingly shares the Eucharist with Roy and he jokingly asks if she is trying to save his soul; she doesn’t understand and it’s this unconditional human love that is savior and not some Holy cracker; transubstantiation as imaginary as the five characters in the impish fable. Roy is heartbroken over his failed romance and his seemingly crippled existence; in his mind he is no longer a whole man. But he must weigh this suffering against the young Alexandria who has already witnessed the death of her father, the burning of her home, and the knowledge that her life may never amount to more than picking oranges. The film’s finale skips years ahead and we see Chaplin, Keaton, and other Silent Era greats projected into Alexandria’s 24 frames-per-second escapist montage: she imagines Roy in every film! But Roy’s fate is unknown, and his few indelible images could have been filmed before the accident. They each suffered a disheartening downfall; we can only hope they were able to rise above their unjust burden. (A)

No comments: