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The Fall (2006 film)

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The Fall
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTarsem
Written byTarsem
Dan Gilroy
Nico Soultanakis
Produced byTarsem
StarringLee Pace
Catinca Untaru
Justine Waddell
CinematographyColin Watkinson
Edited byRobert Duffy
Spot Welders
Music byKrishna Levy
Distributed byRoadside Attractions
Release dates
  • 9 September 2006 (2006-09-09) (TIFF)
  • 30 May 2008 (2008-05-30) (United States)
  • 3 October 2008 (2008-10-03) (United Kingdom)
Running time
117 minutes
CountriesUnited States
Budget$30 million[1]
Box office$3.7 million[2]

The Fall is a 2006 adventure fantasy film directed and co-written by Tarsem Singh and starring Lee Pace, Catinca Untaru, and Justine Waddell. It is based on the screenplay of the 1981 Bulgarian film Yo Ho Ho by Valeri Petrov.[3] Presented by David Fincher and Spike Jonze, the film was released in the United States on May 9, 2008 and earned $3.7 million worldwide.

In the subsequent years, the film's was noted for its lack of distribution and absence from any streaming platforms, with Singh going out of his way to find distributors to re-release the film worldwide.[4] In July 2024, streaming service Mubi announced their acquisition of select distribution rights to a 4K restoration of the film, scheduled to premiere at the Locarno Film Festival before streaming on Mubi on September 27, 2024.[5]


In 1915 Los Angeles, stuntman Roy Walker is hospitalized, bedridden and paralyzed (possibly permanently) after jumping off a bridge for a stunt in his first film. He meets Alexandria, a young Romanian-born patient in the hospital who is recovering from a broken arm, and begins to tell her a story about her namesake, Alexander the Great. Alexandria is told she has to leave, but Roy promises to tell her an epic tale if she returns the next day.

The next morning, as Roy spins his tale of fantasy, Alexandria's imagination brings his characters to life. Roy's tale is about five heroes: a silent Indian warrior, a muscular ex-slave named Otta Benga, an Italian explosives expert called Luigi, Charles Darwin alongside a pet monkey named Wallace, and a masked swashbuckling bandit. An evil ruler named Governor Odious has committed an offense against each of the five, and they all seek revenge. The heroes are later joined by a sixth hero, a mystic.

Alexandria vividly imagines her friends and people around her appearing as the characters in Roy's story. Although Roy develops affection for Alexandria, he also has an ulterior motive: to trick her into stealing morphine from the hospital pharmacy. Roy intends to use the morphine to commit suicide because the woman he loves has left him for the actor for whom he provided the stunt footage. However, Alexandria returns with only three pills. Roy asks what happened to the rest of the pills in the bottle, and Alexandria says she threw all but three of them down the toilet, having mistaken the "E" on the piece of paper Roy gave her for a "3". The stories become a collaborative tale to which Alexandria also contributes. Alexandria herself becomes a character: while Roy is the masked bandit, she is his daughter.

Roy talks Alexandria into stealing a bottle of morphine tablets locked in a fellow patient's cabinet, and then downs it all. He tells her she should leave after he takes them, but he knows she may not obey and may very well witness the death of the man she has come to view as her father. This does not come to pass, as the next morning Roy awakens from his sleep and realizes the pills were placebos and not actual morphine. Alexandria, desperate to help Roy, sneaks out of bed to the pharmacy. She climbs onto the cabinet but loses her footing, falls, and sustains a severe head injury. She receives surgery, after which she is visited by Roy, where he confesses his deception. He pleads with Alexandria to ask someone else to end the story, but she insists on hearing Roy's ending. Roy reluctantly begins the rest of the story.

The heroes die one by one, and it seems that Governor Odious will be triumphant. Alexandria becomes increasingly upset, but Roy insists that it's his story to tell. She declares that it is hers too and begs Roy to let the bandit live. Roy finally agrees, and the epic tale comes to an end; Governor Odious lays dying and the Bandit and his daughter are alive and together. In a final twist, Roy confronts the character representing his ex-girlfriend. She says that the story's pain and suffering were all part of a "test" of the Bandit's love for her. The Bandit rejects her and her manipulations at last.

With the story complete, Roy and Alexandria, along with the patients and staff of the hospital, watch a viewing of the finished film that Roy appeared in. With everyone laughing, only Roy's smile is broken in confusion when he sees that his jump has been edited out of the film.

Alexandria's arm eventually heals and she returns to the orange orchard where her family works. Her voice-over reveals that Roy has recovered and is now back at work again. As she talks, a montage of cuts from several of silent films' greatest and most dangerous stunts plays; she imagines all the stuntmen to be Roy.



The Fall is a self-reflexive film that deals primarily with the concept of storytelling. Roy Walker tells a story to Alexandria, who imagines it, but there is a discontinuity between what he describes and how she sees it. Each character brings their own life into their experiences of the story; Roy takes inspiration from the film that he was working on before his accident, and Alexandria populates his story with familiar sights from her own life. The intimidating X-Ray operator becomes an enemy soldier, the 'Indian' is seen by her as an immigrant co-worker from the orange groves, while Roy's dialogue makes it clear to the audience that he meant 'Indian' to mean a Native American man from the Western film he was involved in.[7]

The Fall is also grounded in the film's historical period. Roy took inspiration for his story's bandits from early 20th century news; the controversy over credit for Charles Darwin's ideas in On the Origin of Species between Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, as well as Ota Benga's imprisonment in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri were prominent news stories around the time period of the film's setting.[8]


Tarsem Singh largely financed the film with his own funds, and paid members of the cast and crew on an equal basis rather than in more typical Hollywood fashion. The film was made over a period of four years and incorporates footage shot in 24 countries,[9] including India, Indonesia (Bali), Italy, France, Spain, Namibia, and China (PRC). Singh stressed the importance of on-location filming and lack of special effects, as he found that modern techniques would not age well in comparison. He only took advertising jobs in places that he wanted to do location scouting for, and flew cast members to shoot scenes for the film using the same crew as he did for commercials.[10] When shooting scenes of the blue city in Jodhpur, Singh provided locals with blue paint to refresh the paint on their houses.[11] This alternative to post-production effects resulted in the vibrant blue of the city in the film. Another location, the contemporary South African mental hospital which represents an early 20th-century Los Angeles hospital (the principal setting throughout the film) remained operational (in a separate wing) during filming.[12]

Lee Pace remained in a bed for most of the early filming at the director's suggestion, convincing most of the crew that he was in fact unable to walk.[13] The intention, Tarsem and Pace noted, was to maximize the realism of Roy's physical limitations in the eyes of Catinca Untaru, whose lines and reactions as the character Alexandria were largely unscripted. Alexandria's misinterpreting the letter E as the number 3 in a note written by Roy came about from an accidental misreading by the 6-year-old actress during filming, which the director adapted into a twist in the story. Tarsem had portions of the hospital scenes between Catinca and Pace filmed through small holes in the hospital bed curtains, maximizing their spontaneous interactions despite the presence of the film crew surrounding them.[12]

The film features a dream sequence animation created by Christoph Launstein and Wolfgang Lauenstein, with costume design from Eiko Ishioka.

Filming locations[edit]

Filming locations include Deadvlei, Chand Baori and Umaid Bhawan Palace


Original release[edit]

The Fall premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. It was theatrically released in May 9, 2008 under Roadside Attractions, with a DVD and Blu-ray release thru Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on September 9, 2008.

Critical reception[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 62% approval rating based on 113 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "More visually elaborate than the fragmented story can sometimes support, The Fall walks the line between labor of love and filmmaker self-indulgence."[16] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 64 out of 100 based on 23 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[17]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars out of four and wrote, "You might want to see [it] for no other reason than because it exists. There will never be another like it."[18] He later named it among his top 20 films of 2008.[19] Nathan Lee of The New York Times, however, wrote that the film "is a genuine labor of love—and a real bore."[20]

The film appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008.[21] Tasha Robinson of The A.V. Club named it the best film of 2008,[22] and Sean Axmaker of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer named it the 6th best film of 2008.[citation needed]

4K restoration[edit]

As of September 2023, The Fall had been unavailable on streaming services or rental services, making it notoriously difficult to access with secondhand Blu-ray copies of the film being very expensive. At the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival, Tarsem discussed the possibility of releasing a 4K restoration of the film, although a major issue was finding a physical label or streaming service that would distribute it in the highest quality possible. When asked if he had approached The Criterion Collection to issue the restored film, Tarsem replied, "We have. It was the strangest thing, they kind of have not responded to it... Criterion doesn't seem to think it's their kind of film, which is bizarre." Tarsem remained optimistic about a streaming release, "It's just countries like Japan and all reach out individually and say, 'Can we have it?' And we've been able to solve that, but right now, I’d love for it to stream in some way."[4]

In July 2024, Mubi announced that they had acquired rights to the 4K restoration of The Fall for North and Latin America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Benelux, Turkey and India, with its subsidiary The Match Factory handling sales elsewhere. The restoration will premiere at the Locarno Film Festival, following which Mubi will release it on their streaming service on September 27, 2024, marking the first time the film has been made available on a streaming service.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Fall". Telegraph (UK). 18 April 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  2. ^ "The Fall". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  3. ^ Garrett, Daniel (16 October 2015). "Liberations of Mind, Spirit, and Vision: The Fall by Tarsem Singh". Offscreen. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b "'The Fall' 4K UHD is Coming Soon if Tarsem Singh Has His Way [Exclusive]". Collider. 25 August 2023. Retrieved 16 April 2024.
  5. ^ a b Wiseman, Andreas (15 July 2024). "Cult 2006 Film 'The Fall', Starring Lee Pace, Getting Global 4K Re-Release Via Mubi". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 15 July 2024.
  6. ^ Kehr, Dave (11 May 2008). "Special Effects From the Real World". New York Times. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  7. ^ Stevens, Charlotte (2010). "Telling the (Wrong) Story: The disintegration of transcultural communication and narrative in The Fall". Cineaction (80): 30–37.
  8. ^ Singh, Tarsem. "The Fall- Tarsem's Visual Companion- Part 1: The Director on His Astonishing Imagery". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  9. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (26 June 2007). "A 'Fall' no one wants to take". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 May 2023.
  10. ^ "How Tarsem Singh's obsession became a movie". Minnesota Public Radio News. 30 May 2008. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (3 June 2008). "Tarsem and the legend of "The Fall"". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  12. ^ a b c Singh, Tarsem (director) (2006). The Fall (BD commentary).
  13. ^ Carpenter, Cassie (15 May 2008). "Style meets substance: director Tarsem Singh brings 'The Fall' to theatres after years in the making". Back Stage West. Vol. 15, no. 20. Prometheus Global Media LLC.
  14. ^ "The Fall – Windows Live". Apanbear.spaces.live.com. Retrieved 11 August 2010.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "The Fall – a set on Flickr". Flickr.com. 20 July 2004. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  16. ^ "The Fall (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  17. ^ "The Fall (2006)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  18. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Fall Movie Review & Film Summary". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  19. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The best films of 2008... and there were a lot of them". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  20. ^ Lee, Nathan (9 May 2008). "Broken Spirits on the Mend". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 May 2008.
  21. ^ "Metacritic: 2008 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 2 January 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  22. ^ Murray, Noel; Phipps, Keith; Rabin, Nathan; Robinson, Tasha; Tobias, Scott (16 December 2008). "The year in film 2008". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on 12 September 2011.

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