One of the most beautiful films I have ever seen…

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I don’t know why it has taken me so long to watch this, I’ve had it for a while and heard so much about it but today I finally watched Tarsem’s “The Fall”. It’s Tarsem’s second feature after the Jennifer Lopez film “The Cell”, an underrated film but not a patch on this.

It’s unlike anything you have ever seen. It’s reminiscent to something like “The Princess Bride” or “Pan’s Labyrinth”  but so unique on many levels.

Apparently this film was made over a number of years and financed by the Director himself. Filming took place in 26 locations across 18 countries and it shows. There is no CGI in this film, all these locations are real and wow are they stunning. DoP  Colin Watkinson, who according to imdb has only been DP on a couple of films, lots of music videos and commercials and he’s done lot’s of Entourage. A show I like but this guy doesn’t seem to be used in features anywhere near as much as he should be!

There are times when it reminds me of Ron Fricke’s “Baraka”, itself shot over a long period of time across many, many countries. In fact one scene must be an homage to Baraka! Take a look below…

It is at times hard to believe what you are seeing on the screen is actually real, and knowing that it is makes you even more in awe. There hasn’t been a film in recent memory that can touch this for sheer visual spectacle, certainly not one without CGI. Its so easy these days to just dismiss stuff as CGI or even matte paintings…surely that’s too beautiful to be real but it is!

The performances of the two leads, Lee Pace as the crippled stuntman and Catinca Untaru is magical. They play so well off of each other. Pace, you may well know from the delight that was “Pushing Daisies” a show unfortunately cancelled recently. Apparently they shot the hospital scenes chronologically over 6 weeks and it pays off as Romanian Untaru’s English gets better as the film progresses as she spends more time with Pace retelling his story.

The two leads
The two leads

It’s at times dark but always compelling. A lot of people say the visuals overpower the story but I disagree…. the visuals are without doubt astonishing but the story holds it together to create a wonderful narrative.the_fall_123


The above still is from the quite stunning title sequence, all filmed in black and white and set to Beethoven’s 7th Symphony movement 2,  oddly a piece I used a couple of weeks back for my little short with the Cinemek G35. I saw “Watchmen” the other day at the cinema, I really enjoyed it…great film, that too had an amazing title sequence. One of the best I have ever seen.

“The Fall” is a film that seems to polarize people, it’s a love it or loathe it film it seems, I don’t get the people who say it is a self indulgent mess. The story is very clearly told and the visuals are unique. If there was ever a film to go out and buy a blu ray player for, this is it! I just wish I had seen it at the cinema!


  1. I loved every single frame of it.

    I am also of a very small minority that thought The Cell was brilliant also. I’ve never seen anything capture the mindscape quite as viscerally. The context of that story was a bit lacking though, but that has never diminished my enjoyment of thaat film.

    The Fall is so different, yet so similar. It’s a more emotionally honest, real, piece of filmmaking, but he there are still the same visual queues, like the stark frames and how he uses masks and costumes like liquid and air inside the frame.

    As great as this film is, I don’t think Tarsem has hit his masterpiece yet.

  2. It’s gorgeous alright. The opening phrase in black and white is worth the price of admission. It reminds me of one of my favorite films of all time from several years back called Baraka. And that one’s just come out on Blu-Ray. There is a god.


  3. i love baraka…looks like i should get it on blu ray. (the whirling dervishes are my favorite part of the movie) i haven’t heard of the fall but i’ll have to find it….i love when a movie pushes me to re-consider the possibilities for how a film can look.

  4. Another film to consider: my kids and I just re-watched Black Stallion (the one lensed by Caleb Deschanel.) Absolutely stunning — and entirely pre-digital. Great DOP + great direction + casting + waiting for the right light at the right location.

  5. Oh! Two other Deschanel greats that are long on looks and short on dialogue: The Natural and The Right Stuff. Both highly visual, and brilliant examples of pure cinematography — no massaging in the Inferno, no Digital Intermediate. Just a guy and a light meter (oh…and lots of crew, trucks, and gear that hurts when you drop it on your foot.)

  6. Awesome, thanks for putting this up Phil, definitely going to try and get a hold of a copy..!
    got Baraka a couple weeks ago on blu ray… brilliant! although not a huge fan of the theatrical scenes – the incredible visuals are breathtakingly awesome in HD.

    you should have a recommended films /feature film recommendations… I’m sure there are many gem’s out there that slide past mainstream with excellent Cinematography…

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