The Fall (2006)
Tarsem Singh’s The Fall is a film’s film with a storyteller’s story.
A central question in this film is “who owns a story?” Or rather, who controls its meaning and interpretation? As a frame narrative, the plot calls attention to the act of storytelling. However, the story within the story is also being crafted and challenged in real time as the frame narrative unfolds.
If the film’s plot structure was its only self-referential aspect, that would be more than enough to qualify The Fall as an interesting study of storytelling. Yet the setting and cinematography each add their own multi-layered meanings. After all, this is a film’s film.
Despite the intricate plot, The Fall is primarily a visual film, not a literary one. The cinematography is decadently baroque. The film is set in silent film era Hollywood – an industry devoted to storytelling through pictures.
This exploration of self-referentiality and authorial control is increasingly relevant in today’s media environment. Such questions have implications for both copyright law and popular media criticism, as films are meme-ified and digested multiple times the moment trailers are released.
This self indulgent filmmaking can actually be worthwhile and rewarding here. In the same way that a science fiction viewer suspends disbelief in order to appreciate the film on its own terms, suspension of propriety aids appreciation of The Fall. Those indulgently sumptuous visuals are indeed a delight to behold. The many-layered story provides ample fodder for conversation.