Tarsem Singh’s The Fall fucked me up for days on end. There is no sugar-coating. It left me battered and near tears by the end of it. It’s both spiritual and achingly human, imaginative to great heights and yet earthly, a film that’s willing to get down on the ground and cry with its characters. It doesn’t help that its lead character, paralyzed stuntman Roy, is portrayed by Lee Pace, who I’d rank as one of the top actors in my generation. Nevermind that Alexandria is played by the cute-as-a-button Catinca Untaru, making the character impossible to dislike with her sweet voice and bang-on appropriate acting. This film is endearing to me in the way that it speaks to how we compartmentalize the different pieces of ourselves, as well as what aspects of us die first in a crisis, and how we manage to carry on living despite the shattering of our hearts and souls.
|Nothing but love for this film.|
Black Bandit – separated from his murdered brother, the Black Bandit vows, “I will annihilate him and everything he loves. I will destroy him!” This character speaks to Roy’s sense of grief, stating at one point, “That which has been taken from me can never be replaced.” In essence, this is the part of Roy that wants retribution for the loss of his ability to walk. This aspect is the leader of the revenge plot, the driving force of the action.
The Silent Indian Warrior (Jeetu Verma) – married to a beautiful woman who had been kidnapped by Governor Odious, he swore revenge when she killed herself in captive despair. The Silent Indian Warrior did not want anyone to see how beautiful his wife was, so she was kept in seclusion. This piece of Roy doesn’t want others to take what he feels is romantically his.
Otta Benga (Marcus Wesley) – a former slave who freed slaves and burned fields after his brother died while they were both in slavery. This is the part of Roy that breaks away from the injustice and fights back on behalf of those without a voice, or against those who cannot see the truth for what it is.
Luigi (Robin Smith) – an explosives expert who is socially ostracized by Governor Odious. As such, Luigi uses his skills to remove obstacles when they arise. This piece of Roy is covers his extreme social isolation and bottled-up anger.
Charles Darwin (Leo Bill) – a scientist looking for a specific butterfly, of which Odious sent a dead one. Accompanied by his monkey Wallace, Darwin is looking for the rare beauty that must be appreciated. This is Roy’s sense of chivalry and natural order of life, which feels wronged because has been violated.
Mystic (Julian Bleach) – a man that springs forth from a lone, burning tree to avenge his fallen people. He is part of a community that is always with him. This is Roy’s sense of wonder and belonging.
|Love these guys.|
Each represents something that Roy feels has been stolen from him in his paralysis. As such, when he chooses to give up, the order and method of death of each piece of his psyche comes to represent the things he feels he cannnot continue to carry. Darwin dies first, acknowledging the natural order of life and death while willingly joining Wallace, who was chasing something rare and borderline impossible. Next comes Luigi, who limps and skips to attract a crowd. Luigi says before his suicide, “He gave up. It’s not very satisfying, is it? He didn’t think so either.” While his sense of isolation dies, he acknowledges that giving up is not the best way to go for the fulfillment of the soul. Next up is Otta Benga, who is shot by arrows while the group is trying to escape. That the sense of justice dies alongside the Mystic, who is flogged and releases the birds contained within his belly, is significant: he lets go of both his sense of relentless, idealized revenge alongside the part of him that simply knows which way to go. It is the surrender to the unknown, with a sense of calm. The Silent Indian dies next, choosing to give Black Bandit and his daughter a chance to survive in his death. It’s not surprisingly that this portion of Roy has to die: it’s what wanted to keep the object of his affection all to himself.
|Sometimes, you need to let go and embrace what’s around you, even if it’s not perfect.|