Tag Archives: Tarsem Singh

A Tale of Two Tales

24 Aug

Film: The Fall

Director: Tarsem Singh

Year Released: 2008

Cast: Lee Pace, Justine Waddell, Catinca Untaru

Available on Netflix Streaming: No

Available on Cuevana: Yes

Rating: 9.1/10

Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.

Okay so that line is not spoken in The Fall; in fact, that dialogue is from the very popular Batman Begins by Christopher Nolan and received by Bruce Wayne as fundamental advice from both his father as well as his caretaker and butler, Alfred. Yes, that line captures a very significant thematic element of Tarsem Singh’s The Fall, its extremely visual, inspirational message coming through the use of breathtaking images, scenery and wonderfully delightful characters. Tarsem contrasts his real-world characters with their fascinating counterparts in the fantasy world weaved by main character Roy, played by Lee Pace, given to the young Alexandria, played by the incredible child actress Catinca Untaru. In the real world, individuals feel constrained by their circumstances and refuse to the face the reality of their situation while the fantasy characters surmount seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to fulfill their quest for revenge.

Our five heroes in the fantasy world. Each is vastly unique.

Alright so let’s take a few steps back because I absolutely love the plot of this film. It tells two stories in essence: when a young stuntman finds himself in a hospital after a terrible fall on a stunt gone wrong, he befriends a young girl named Alexandria. Over the course of the next few days, Roy begins to tell Alexandria an epic tale of five men seeking revenge against a man, named Governor Odious, for the terrible wrongs they feel he has committed against them. When the story cuts to these incredible sequences of the epic fantasy, the film almost transforms into something else altogether; a showcase of beautiful imagery woven together by amazing characters who all have different motivations for their revenge. I will not say anything else more than that but trust me, you have never seen anything quite like the shots that Tarsem captures in The Fall.

Amazingly, Tarsem did not use any CG special effects to deliver any of the setting or scenery in the film. The sequences on film…these are all natural as some girls would like to say. It serves as an homage to classic film-making where directors did not have the tools or resources to include computer generated graphics and imagery. And I must say, it elevates the quality of the film all that much more, in my mind. In fact, the entire film feels very retro from the setting in 1940’s Los Angeles (Tarsem says Once Upon a Time in the film) to the very formal dialogue and vocabulary used in the film. It creates an out of world effect like we, the viewer, are being transported to another time and another realm, in the case of the epic fantasy segments.

One of the incredible locales in the film.

I really cannot say enough about the visuals in this film. I know that this is a blog about the effect of music on films and their significant relationship but Tarsem conveys some absolutely stunning images to the viewer, to the point where we honestly doubt whether all these places where he shot the film could truly be real. Rest assured, every single locale where the film was shot(over 20 countries) most certainly exists. Lakes, deserts, mountains, ocean reefs, palaces are all included in this film. How this film did not win the Academy Award for Best Cinematography is beyond me!

Moreover, the actors in the film are relatively unknown save for Lee Pace but a regular moviegoer probably will not recognize the name; nevertheless, they all give fantastic performances especially the actors who play characters in the fantasy tale portions. They breathe such specific qualities and characteristics into each of their personalities that the viewer forms a very deep connection with these completely fictional characters made up by Roy. Speaking of Roy, the interactions between Catinca Untaru and Lee Pace are very fun to watch. They have a fantastic rapport with one another and Tarsem often did not tell the young actress that he was filming in order to gain more spontaneous reactions and lines from her.

As the story unfolds deeper and the nature of the relationship between Roy and Alexandria becomes more clear, the themes of the film similarly become more apparent to the viewer. Alexandria is the stark opposite of Roy. I will not say how exactly in this review but it is only through the joy and inspiration of Alexandria that Roy finds the courage and power to move forward out of his desperation. I really cannot speak too much more about this major, central theme without spoiling the entire plot but Pace and Untaru both do a phenomenal job towards the end of the film. The ending sequence of the film played alongside Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony Movement 2 brings the entire film full circle very nicely and truly makes a great statement about the two main characters.

Speaking of Beethoven, his Seventh Symphony Movement 2 serves as a recurring motif through the film. Like the setting and the dialogue, it gives the film a very classic and vintage essence while maintaining the epic quality of the film as well. Unfortunately, since the film was solely financed by Tarsem himself, no production crew ever became responsible for releasing a soundtrack or even an official score. However, the music in this film is so indescribably eclectic and unique, it manages to strengthen the grand nature of the story and the viewer feels further drawn into the fantasy world. Simply put, it is a monumental shame that there is no soundtrack for this film because I guarantee that I would listen to every track repeatedly. It is quite honestly just that good.

And our other two heroes in their fantasy counterpart bandit costumes!

And this film is quite honestly just that good. While it did not gain much recognition from viewers or award associations, some critics did appreciate the amazing effort that went into this terrific endeavor. Tarsem actually has his Immortals coming out this fall (haha sort of a pun) and I think more regular moviegoers will see that and finally get the chance to see the incredible vision of Tarsem. Check this film out! It recounts two touching stories and has a very inspirational message that connects the two stories!

Rating: 9.1/10




Setting the Tone (Beethoven Style)

22 Aug

Music in opening sequences of films can be extremely significant in establishing the mood or theme of a film. Take for example the song I posted a few weeks back, We’re Gonna Be Friends by the White Stripes. It played during the opening credits of Napoleon Dynamite and accomplished that very effect I speak of. Now I would like to introduce you to another fairly recent film that was far more limited in theatrical release than even Little Miss Sunshine. The film is called The Fall and it is directed by Tarsem Singh. The background image is an excellent microcosm for the entire rest of the masterpiece. I only saw this film a few months back and I must say that is easily one of the most beautifully shot films I have ever seen. The images in the film are breathtaking because the locations are simply astounding. You do not want to miss this film that tells a very unique story.

Anyways, the opening credits is shot in black and white (the rest of the film is in color) and Beethoven’s Symphony #7 Allegretto Movement 2 plays over them. It is one of the most beautiful opening sequences and gives the story an instant retro feeling. It also foreshadows elements of the plot very nicely which is quite epic in scope. The music is quite epic and classical as well I must say. Please watch this movie! It is not a movie that gained much recognition but I wholeheartedly believe it should have. Review to come very soon! In the meantime, please listen to this beautiful track by the genius Beethoven.