In this movie, you’ll see Lee Pace being sexy,
Breath-takingly gorgeous scenery,
And an exceedingly stylish head-fan.
If that sounds like good fun then you should probably watch Tarsem Singh’s 2006 movie The Fall. I should warn you in advance – while this movie is incredible, a good portion of my love for it probably stems from the fact that I have an unhealthy obsession with Lee Pace.
I mean, look at him.
Anyway, let’s get this show on the road. The Fall is a difficult movie to describe. Film critic Roger Ebert probably put it best: “You might want to see it for no other reason than because it exists. There will never be another like it.” It’s indisputably the most visually stunning movie I’ve ever seen – it incorporates scenery from almost twenty countries, including India, France, Africa, China, and Fiji. The landscapes seem to be torn straight from a fairy tale, but are in fact real places from around the world.
I’m getting Labyrinth flashbacks.
The “true” setting of the film is within an American hospital in the year 1915, where stuntman Roy (Lee Pace) is recovering from a catastrophic fall that left him unable to walk. There, he meets Alexandria, a little girl with a broken arm. Alexandria is played by Catinca Untaru, a 6-year-old Romanian girl who had never acted before in her life. She is pretty much the cutest thing you have ever seen.
My favourite thing about The Fall is that the scenes with Roy and Alexandria are almost entirely unscripted – in many cases the little girl did not realize that she was being filmed, and so the story was crafted from her natural interaction with Pace. In fact, most of the cast and crew were led to believe that Lee Pace was actually a paraplegic. When a crew member walked into a room and saw Pace standing up, he almost fainted!
Roy tells Alexandria stories to alleviate her boredom. She inserts people she has seen around the hospital into the roles of the characters in the story, and the two craft an epic adventure of fantastical landscapes and eccentric heroes and villains.
But Roy is dangerously suicidal. He has lost his job, girlfriend, mobility – everything he believed made his life worth living. In Alexandria he sees a way to control his fate. He tells the little girl that he will not continue the story unless she steals him some “medicine.” He intends to use the drugs to commit suicide. But Alexandria misinterprets the E that Roy shows her will be on the bottle as a 3, and as a result she doesn’t get him nearly enough pills to carry through with his plan.
Fun fact: This particular plot point was included into the story because Catinca Untaru actually misread the E as a 3.
Roy tries and fails several times to kill himself, and thus spirals further into alcoholism and depression. In her desire to ease his sadness and hear the ending of the story, Alexandria tries to steal some medicine again – but she falls from a high shelf, and badly hits her head.
When she wakes up, Roy is there to visit her. But he is emotionally shattered, guilty over his manipulation of an innocent little girl. He begins to craft the conclusion of the story, but kills off all of the characters the two have created together. He doesn’t believe that stories can have a happy ending.
I won’t spoil it, but if the finale of this movie doesn’t make you cry then you probably have no soul.
The Fall could easily be written off as a weird artsy film, but the connection between Pace and Untaru practually drags you into emotional investment in the story. Lee Pace is a heartbreakingly authentic actor, and I swear that’s not just the hormones talking.
Please watch The Fall. Do it for me.
Do it for Lee Pace.