Uncovered Gem of the Week: Tarsem’s The Fall
25 years of cinematographic obsession, or what Nike has to do with a 6-year-old Romanian girl.
By Maria Popova
Chances are, you’re already familiar with legendary director Tarsem (pronounced tar-SAME) and his prolific commercial work for brands like Guinness, Nike, Levi’s and Motorola RAZR, as well as music videos like R.E.M.’s famed Losing My Religion.
What you may not be familiar with is his colossal pet project. The Fall, inspired by 1981 Bulgarian movie Yo Ho Ho, took 25 years to make and was shot on 26 locations across 18 countries. The film was quietly released in 2006 and swept the festival circuit, polarizing critics and audiences with its dramatic avant garde style and odd head-scratcher of a plot. And while The Fall sets a whimsical playground for the bizarre, the macabre and the idiosyncratic, what’s even more fascinating than the film itself is the story behind it.
If Tarsem‘s style, however distinctive, seems vaguely familiar, it may be because he keeps rather famous company. His posse includes iconic director Spike Jonze and filmmaker David Fincher of Se7en, Fight Club, and Zodiac fame. The two were, in fact, instrumental to making the The Fall happen by getting Tarsem to finally move from obsession to production.
We have a hard time pegging The Fall — it’s part The Wizard of Oz, part Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon, part Bjork, part something else entirely. And while it’s just as likely to leave you overwhelmed with sheer awe as it is to make you underwhelmed and confused, it’s worth the watch even merely for the breathtaking cinematography, the phenomenal locations, and the brave play of light and color.
Published January 8, 2009