The Fall


Yesterday’s post was for a day of mourning. Today’s post is one of sublime joy.

I guess you’d have to know me a while to realize that I really don’t like movies, or films, or television shows of any kind, style, form or stripe. I don’t own a television and I can barely tolerate being around one in someone else’s house. I find almost all movies and shows insufferably boring and maddeningly slow and predictable. And yet, if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know that I have an entire category of posts on the subject.

Why? Well, obviously people do watch films/shows. I am in the process of making one for goodness’ sakes! Even for a “recluse” like me, moving pictures are a part of our lives. And occasionally through my peregrinations, I come across some slice of video that intersects with Romania and so post about it here.

A few months ago when I had some free time, I compiled a small list of films that I heard involve Romania or Romanians. And I promised myself that I’d “check them out” when I had a spare moment. Call it “research for the blog” if you like, because that’s basically how I approached it. Like Borat or Children of Men, I expected only to find some small passing attention to Romania, either inconsequential or else derogatory.

And then… well then I came across something else, something that made me smile, that made me gasp in astonishment, that made me feel something. Yes, even me, the old cynic who can barely sit still for 90 minutes.

I will quote from Roger Ebert’s review (a man, by the way, who deserves his own post here one day):

[The director] has made a movie that you might want to see for no other reason than because it exists. There will never be another like it.

That movie is The Fall, released in 2006 and a film I had never even heard of before watching it.

If you prefer a standard A, B then C, shoot the bad guys then kiss the girl kind of movie then The Fall won’t appeal to you. It is definitely a strange and unique movie, financed entirely by the director himself, and Ebert is right when he says there will never be another movie like it.

The lead character in this movie is a young girl (around aged 6) who is played by Catinca Untaru, who is from Romania. She definitely speaks Romanian (including a small part where she has a conversation with her family in Romanian) but judging by her eye color and first name, I think she might be part Hungarian as well. I don’t know that for sure though.

What I do know is that this movie is amazing and Catinca’s performance is absolutely wonderful. You can click on the link above to read the hundreds of reviews, one after another gushing about just how amazed they are with her. Somehow this little kid, with such a central role to play, comes across so natural and spontaneous that you wonder how she could’ve ignored all the cameras and crew that were filming her.

The rest of the movie… well you’ll just have to watch it if you’re curious. It is fantastic and fantastical. The white hat with all of the beads has to be one of the most amazing pieces of wardrobe that I’ve ever seen. And as Roger Ebert says, your mind will boggle as you watch this because no computer generated effects were used, leaving all of us to wonder exactly how such images could be accomplished because they will blow you away.

My only quibble was that Catinca’s character’s name in the movie is “Alexandria”, which is how all of the English-speaking actors refer to her, when her Romanian family uses the more authentic “Alexandra”. There is however a lovely scene where Jeetu Verma (from India) actually speaks a line in Romanian to her. Oh gosh, that made my heart sing just to see it.

I will warn you – the story in this movie is not all peaches and cream. There are some very troubling elements in here and the story does not have a predictable happy ending. It is however, a movie worth watching and the troubling elements feel real and not forced or jammed in there just to twist your emotions.

The trailer is below:

From the Youtube comments:

This is one of the most beautiful, imaginative, heart wrenching, and underrated films I’ve ever seen.

Indeed.