Not Streaming: The Fall

Not Streaming: The Fall

The Fall
The Fall (2008)
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Shown: British Quad Poster

By chance, there is one actor who I’ll be returning to several times in the course of these articles.  Lee Pace appeared in a support role in Wonderfalls, which aired in 2004. He returned as the main character in Pushing Daisies from 2007 through 2009. And in between, he appeared in the movie The Fall, released in 2006.

The film is the story of Roy (Pace), a stuntman during the silent movie era.  A stunt gone wrong lands him in the hospital without the use of his legs and also results in the girl of his dreams leaving him for the film’s leading man.  While in the hospital, Roy makes the acquaintance of Alexandria (Catinca Untaru) an inquisitive young girl in the hospital with a broken arm. To pass the time, Roy begins telling Alexandria a complex story of a group of antiheroes fighting against the evil General Odious (Daniel Caltagirone). The story is depicted the way Alexandria imagines it, with the various characters bearing resemblance to the hospital staff and patients.

One of the features of Pushing Daisies was the over saturation and use of color throughout the series. The Fall also makes use of oversaturation to good effect as it helps divide the films reality from the fantasy sequences described by Pace and imagined by Alexandria. Roy’s story begins as an escapist fantasy to while away the time for himself and Alexandria, but it quickly becomes apparent that the tale is more than just a story and has dark ramifications, both within the story Roy is telling and for the life in the hospital that he and Alexandria are experiencing.

Roy and Alexandria in hospital
Roy and Alexandria in hospital

Aspects of Roy’s story clearly mirror his actual situation. Having lost the girl he was interested in when he was injured, General Odious is based on the actor who wound up with the girl (and Roy’s relationship with her may have all been in his head). This is true even as Roy has moved his (potentially unrequited) affections to his caregiver, Nurse Evelyn (Justine Waddell), who becomes Sister Evelyn in the story. At the same time, Pace portrays the Masked Man, the hero in Alexandria’s imagining of the story he is telling her and the leader of a band of misfits who are fighting against the evil General Odious. It is within these fantasy elements that the film really comes alive.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Roy is exploiting Alexandria’s friendship with him and using the story he is telling to manipulate the child into helping him steal morphine. From that point, the story, already surrealistic, begins to more completely blur the lines between Roy’s story and the reality of the hospital.  Alexandria’s images of Roy’s characters were already based on the patients, doctors, nurses, and staff of the hospital, but now she is losing the ability to differentiate between the real relationships and the fictional ones.

Making the matters worse, as Roy’s depression over this disability and the loss of his girlfriend deepens, the story he is telling Alexandria becomes darker, scaring the young girl who has now become fully vested in the story. While Roy is a sympathetic character, especially as Pace portrays him, his willingness to use Alexandria and his lack of concern for her well-being saps the viewer’s ability to empathize with him.

The Masked Bandit and Alexandria
The Masked Bandit and Alexandria

Early in Roy’s telling of the Masked Man’s story, the film makes it clear that Alexandria does not see the story the same way Roy conceives it, demonstrating the collaborative nature of any narrative. Roy describes one of the characters as an Indian and, as an American living in Hollywood, it is clear that he means for the character to be a native American, but throughout the film, the character is portrayed in Alexandria’s imagination as someone from India (Jeetu Verma). This collaborative nature is future reinforced when Roy comments that it is his story and Alexandria replies that it is her story, as well.

The power of Roy’s story is that it can impact the individuals in the film’s “real” world. As noted, Alexandria has a difficult time separating the events of Roy’s narrative and what is actually happening, but at the same time Roy’s story helps her handle the monotony of life in the hospital where her explorations often land her in trouble with the staff. The most obvious impact on Roy is that he hopes to score enough morphine to commit suicide, but his relationship with Alexandria and her earnestness may also allow him to renew his faith in humanity or his desire to live.

The Fall is not currently streaming on any service, although DVDs can be purchased. It is based on the 1981 Russian film Yo Ho Ho (Ио Хо Хо).

The Fall montage
The silent movie; Charles Darwin, The Indian, The Masked Bandit, Luigi, Otta Benga; Otta Benga on a bed of arrows, The dance.

Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a seventeen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW, NESFA Press, and ZNB. His most recent anthology, Alternate Peace and his novel After Hastings, was published in 2020. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 6 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7.

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Troy chrisman

an amazing film. So glad to have seen it in an art house. I highly recommend it, but it is SO hard to find.


from the cover you showed, i ALWAYS mix this up with the movie The Cell, that one with jennifer lopez, and even though it was a weird not great film, an amazing performance by Vincent D’Onofrio. when i worked in a mom and pop video stre and then blockbuster video, i would always get these two mixed up.
they are both directed by the same guy, and while people LOVE The Fall, i still like The Cell more, but both are great. i dont know why he hasnt gone on to direct a bunch more, but Self/Less was interesting enough as his last movie.

Jeff Stehman

A gorgeous and sad movie.


Found this on eBay and sent for it — got it in 2 days. Once I began watching, I realized I’d seen a portion of it ages ago, probably while channel-surfing, but hadn’t seen the whole thing. What an exquisite film! Beautifully done, and you tell us just enough here to whet our appetites. As for actor Lee Pace: his was not a familiar face, but the day after I watched “The Fall,” I was watching another DVD and caught a trailer for an SF film titled “Revolt” — starring Lee Pace! Accoding to IMDb, he’s also been in “The Hobbit” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I’ll have to keep an eye out for him next time I view either of those.


Just checked IMDb again — Lee Pace is supposed to be in Apple TV’s “Foundation,” based on Asimov’s novels.

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