From its opening sequence — filmed in slow-motion black-and-white and set to the swelling crescendo of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony — “The Fall” recognizes the value of cinematography as art.

Set in 1920s Los Angeles, the film is told from the perspective of Alexandria (Cantica Untaru), a nine-year-old migrant worker in the hospital with a broken arm. While recovering, she meets Roy (Lee Pace) who entertains her with fantastic stories, brought to life by her vivid imagination. As the story progresses, Roy’s depressive tendencies push the narrative into darker themes, made bittersweet from Alexandria’s naïve perspective.

A pet project of director Singh Tarsem, this 2006 film was largely financed out of his own pocket. Far from a typical independent film, its elaborate scenes were filmed on site in over a dozen locations around the globe, including settings from Namibia to the Taj Mahal. With sweeping camera angles and vibrant colors, these shots elevated the film to grandiose proportions. Such staging flourishes did not excessively indulge the director, however, as they illustrated the movie’s surreal fantasy elements well.

It is rare to see a movie in which the director’s artistic vision is conveyed so uncompromisingly. Tarsem’s intensely creative and enthralling experiment forces the audience to reconsider what is possible in the art of storytelling.

Raybin in a member of the class of 2012.

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