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Previous to THE FALL ($39) my only other experience with writer/director Tarsem Singh’s work was THE CELL, a film of dubious qualities- that is, other than its director’s impressive visual style. So impressed with Tarsem’s visual sensibilities on THE CELL, I was eager to see what he could do with better material. This, of course, brings us to Tarsem’s follow up feature THE FALL. Unlike THE CELL, THE FALL is a highly personal piece of filmmaking that walks the line between art house cinema and a commercial movie. Still, I was thoroughly enchanted with THE FALL, which weaves a magical spell across all aspects of the movie, not just the visuals.

For Tarsem, THE FALL was obviously a true labor of love. The director personally financed much of the film, as well as spending nearly two decades scouting for locations, and four years to shoot the movie in its gorgeous locations, which span eighteen countries. The careful planning pays off in a big way, as THE FALL uses virtually no digital trickery, yet is one of the most stunning visual treats to ever be captured on film. Adapted from the 1981 Bulgarian film YO HO HO, THE FALL tells the story of Roy Walker (Lee Pace) a despondent silent film era stuntman, who is hospitalized after taking a fall from a bridge, which leaves him paralyzed. Wandering the corridors of the hospital is five-year-old Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), who suffered a broken arm as a result of her own fall while picking oranges. An unlikely friendship is forged between Roy and Alexandria, as he begins weaving a fantastical tale of adventure to keep her entertained. During the course of the film, Tarsem brings to life the tale of the Blue Bandit and his cohorts, who escape exile only to seek vengeance against the evil Governor Odious- who was responsible for their exile. The cast of THE FALL also features Justine Waddell, Kim Uylenbroek, Aiden Lithgow, Sean Gilder, Ronald France, Andrew Roussouw, Michael Huff, Grant Swanby, Emil Hostina, Robin Smith, Jeetu Verma, Leo Bill, Marcus Wesley, Ayesha Verman, Julian Bleach, Ketut Rina, Elvira Deatcu, Emma Johnson and Daniel Caltagirone.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made THE FALL available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is utterly marvelous, whether it is the more mundane looking hospital sequences, or the visually arresting moments from the adventure tale brought to life. The levels of sharpness and detail are excellent, all the way down to the fine details and texturing. Dimensionality is also excellent. Colors are lush and wonderfully vibrant, while the flesh tones tend to be totally appealing. Blacks are velvety, whites are crisp plus the picture sports smooth contrast and impressive shadow detail. The elements from which THE FALL have been mastered are virtually free from flaws. A fine sheen of grain is noticeable throughout, which reminds one that they are watching a movie, instead of a video.

THE FALL is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Much of THE FALL involves smaller storytelling sequences, which feature a smaller sound-scape and convincing acoustic space. However, the outlying channels do engage exceedingly well anytime something big is happening on the screen. There is precise sound effect placement, as well as effortless panning. Fidelity is just great, producing a warm, full-bodied musical component, as well as convincing sound effects. The bass channel is deep and highly effective. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is generally very understandable. No other language tracks are provided, but English and French subtitles have been included.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice supplements. Two running Audio Commentaries are provided; the first is with writer/director Tarsem Singh, while the second features actor Lee Pace, writer/producer Nico Soultanakis and writer Dan Gilroy. Two behind-the-scenes featurettes are included: Wanderlust and Nostalgia run approximately 30 minutes each, and just document aspects of the production without narration. Deleted Scenes and a Photo Gallery close out the supplements.

As I stated above, I was thoroughly enchanted with Tarsem Singh’s THE FALL. The Blu-ray Disc beautifully renders the film’s stunning visuals. Recommended.



The Fall [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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