27 November 2008

The Fall

Spoilers alert ...

The Fall is a feel-good surreal film. If you've watched Hero by Zhang Yimou and have been astonished by its visual fantasy, you will not be disappointed watching this film. Directed by Tarsem Singh, the film portrays the psychological connections between the two protagonists, a little girl and a bed-ridden stunt man. The latter is suicidal and, like Scheherazade, tells stories to the young girl to get her to do what he wants.

The stories that he tells bear resemblance to his surroundings, despite their settings in the time and place so remote from his own. Of course, one may say that when you tell the story, you can't avoid putting yourself in the story. There's no such thing as impersonality or objectivity in story-making and story-telling. The film makes a good case for this and shows that there's a process of redemption and recovery in story-telling too.

I personally find the essence of the film quite similar to Stranger than Fiction, which I've just watched. What these two films are identical is the way they have faith in the narrator, especially in how this narrating figure can change the turn of the story. These two films make a case against the belief that we're somehow controlled by the stories we make for ourselves and put a positive twist, a rather existentialist one at that, that we human are capable of making a decision and thus bringing about a good change.

Perhaps this spirit is in the air at the moment as we see more and more people gathering and standing firm for what they believe, be it in the US where people voted for Barack Obama, having a total faith that this new voice can bring about a positive 'change', or in Thailand when 'yellow' people gathered at the Government House and then at Suvannabhumi Airport or 'red' people at Rachamangala Stadium, all believing that their presence would bring about change.

Returning to the film, the spirit of change can be seen in the end when the stunt man agrees to change the ending to please the girl. But what I think is the drawback of this film is how little we're convinced by it. I don't personally believe that the begging of the little girl is enough to make a suicidal man change his mind. There should've been something else that triggers his reconsideration -- an epiphany perhaps. Yet, this decision to change the ending -- not to let him be killed in the end -- is pretty elegant on its own, as it may be related to the fact that we're indeed all connected and our stories, though highly individualistic, may inspire others or make them feel despair. The stories, once told, are no longer ours. Once they enter the public realm, they belong to the world, enriching it so.

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