(Note: Never listen to me when I promise that something is coming up next on the blog. Scheduling conflicts prevented me from watching the film Simon Birch with known friend of the blog Steve Isaac this weekend. It will be watched at some future date. Those hoping for guest insight and analysis will not be disappointed, however, as I am watching today’s film along with, and at the behest of, Micah Lubens and Zach Gibson, fans of the film and friends of the blog.)
Category: This is a tricky one. It’s important to note that the film is not primarily a sad movie, like the other films we’ve covered. While it is certainly sad, it is more notable for being a visually striking fantasy epic than sad. As such, it’s more difficult to categorize than most of the other films I will watch. As the film progressed, I decided it could best be considered a sad film about sick/dying people telling stories. These movies are often sad because a) the people are sick/dying, and b) the stories they tell are either about themselves when they were younger, and thus imbued with melancholy and regret, or they're some kind of sad allegory for death or whatever. Two other films that more or less fit into this category are The English Patient and Big Fish. (As noted earlier, it can also be considered a sad visually striking fantasy epic film, but these seem rarer.)
My familiarity with this issue: Not great. I have never really had a near-death experience. The closest I’ve ever come to dying was after the last time I ate a Baconator from Wendy’s. And you can be sure that while that was happening, I was in no mood to tell a story. (However, I have been described as “visually striking.”)
Plot summary yoinked from IMDb: “At a Los Angeles hospital in the 1920s, Alexandria is a child recovering from a broken arm. She befriends Roy Walker, a movie stunt man with legs paralyzed after a fall. At her request, Roy tells her an elaborate story about six men of widely varied backgrounds who are on a quest to kill a corrupt provincial governor. Between chapters of the story, Roy inveigles Alexandria to scout the hospital's pharmacy for morphine. As Roy's fantastic tale nears its end, Death seems close at hand.”
What I thought of the movie: It was hard to hear what was going on over Micah and Zach’s guttural grunts of sexual ecstasy at the film’s visual beauty. (Here they are now with some guest insight and analysis. Micah: "Unnnnhhhh," Zach: "Ohhhhhhh." End of guest insight and analysis.) No but srsly, it was really quite a bewitching movie. Tarsem Singh is famously quite the auteur, and really pulled out all the stops for this, his second movie (his first was The Cell, starring former global superstar Jennifer Lopez). The Fall, which purportedly features no computer-generated imagery, was filmed over a period of four years in over twenty countries. Twenty! Most Americans haven’t even HEARD of twenty other countries. It really has to be seen to be believed.
The stark contrast between the movie’s depiction of the story that Roy tells to Alexandria and the reality of their situation is the most emotionally resonant aspect of the film. At the end of the film, Roy is a broken man thwarted in his attempt to take his own life using the pills that Alexandria has stolen for him, and reveals to her the end of his story. This is very sad and hopeless and such. But then things get a little better, kind of. It’s all very cool. It’s a really cool movie. It's rarely a good idea to trust Micah and Zach, as they are both quite unsavory characters. But they did well here.
How I, John Krizel, related to this movie: Well, it’s not really the sort of movie you relate to, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s often quite dreamlike, but the dreams I have are usually far more mundane and less expensive-looking than the movie. The story that Roy tells was very epic and exciting and involved a quest, which is always good. I have often fancied myself an epic, questing type, a sort of Don Quixote type figure, only less senile. Plus, my quests are almost always fast food-related. But I was definitely feeling the sad stuff. It reaffirmed my fear of being a stuntman during the silent film era, and of being confined to vaguely creepy hospitals.
How I felt after the movie ended: I definitely like the idea of watching movies for this blog that are not considered to be primarily “sad movies.” It remains to be seen if these sorts of movies will have a similar effect on me as the others. In this case, while I certainly do feel a bit melancholy, the real takeaway from The Fall is, as mentioned earlier, not so much the sadness as it is the feeling that you haven’t really ever seen a movie like it before. Which is pretty awesome, actually.