Travelling through the Movies: The Fall


Some of us have the travel bug. In my case it all started with the first book I was ever gifted: Wonders of the world. I couldn’t even read but soon I was: “Where I can go see this?? At the end of that street I can’t cross alone, probably?” (Distance for children is very elastic, everything being very far and very close at the same time. Well, they are right).

Sadly, often our budget and duties don’t allow us to travel as much as we’d like to. But there is still a few vicarious ways of travelling we can afford, to start getting to know all the stunning places in the world and start building our wishlist, our travel musts. And having a goal is the first step in getting there.

One of those ways is the movies. And one of those movies is The Fall (2006) directed by irreverent Tasem Singh.

The Fall, as usual in Tarsem’s films, is, let’s say, particular and more concerned about the visuals than about trimming the storyline. But it is also a ticket to a magic world and a feast to the eyes. So many flavours to chew in, in this case.

The story starts in 1920, when Alexandria, a child who is staying at a Hospital with a broken arm meets and befriends Roy, a stunt man apparently paralyzed after a fall. Roy’s humour is gloomy but the child’s innocence and curiosity, and some hidden motive impels him to start inventing a story for her. The tale of 6 heroes from all over the world, who team up to fight the evil Governor who has caused their misfortune. Reality and fantasy start to blend from there on.

As witnesses of the story, we get to know all those places where the story unfolds. A trip to Cambodia, Spain, Namibia, France, India, Argentina, China, South Africa, Argentina, UK, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Fiji, Nepal, Bolivia, Maldives, Italy, Chile. Like, Wow. This guy is my hero: “-See I’m gonna film this movie where I’m going to skip most of the conventions of a mainstream movie and I have to travel all over the world for doing so”. “-Ah, OK, here you are the money”.

Tarsem starts from what he knows best: India.

Besides the super famous Taj Mahal, the Fall explores many other more Indian landscapes. It begins with the kind of places and forts we picture when we convey the almost mythological concept we have about the country. For instance Chandra Mahal (1729- 1732) or City Palace, the palatine complex in Jaipur, the capital city of Rajashtan State, to which these arabesques and colourful walls belong.


Or Mehrangarh Fort, in Rajashtan, enclosed by impressive walls.


Soon, more surreal images start appearing. As that of, not far from Jaipur (in Abhaneri), the Chand Baori stepwell, one of the first wells (baori) that was built in the region to gather rainwater, that can be accessed via a system of stairs that turns it into an Escher drawing.


Or, without leaving Jaipur, Jantar Mantar, the astronomical observatory also dating from 1727 built by Maharajah Jai Singh II, composed by five different buildings each of a unique and surprising form, because each one it’s specialized in a different kind of astronomical measurement.


Or close to Himalayan border, Pakistan and Tibet, Magnetic Hill, a place that is said to have magnetic properties that pull cars uphill and that can even alter the flight of passing airplanes if they don’t increase their altitude. Others assure that the effect it’s just a mere optical illusion and that there is not, in fact, any magnetic distrurbance at all.



But the trip doesn’t stop in India. For example it takes us to Turkey: up to Istanbul to a church built up in the year 360 under the name of Hagia Sophia, Aγια Σοφία or Holy Wisdom (it’s special on its own to dedicate a worship place to wisdom, even though it is supossed to mean God’s one), that has lead many lives: it has been an orthodox basilica, a catholic cathedral, later a mosque and today is a museum. Back in time it was also the world’s biggest cathedral, until Sevilla’s one was finished. It’s equally enormous bizantine dome was a blueprint in this thing of covering curve spaces.


Neither we stay in just one continent: jumping up to Argentina, in Buenos Aires, the special Art Decó design of Teatro Ópera can be seen, besides some scenes shot in the Botanic and Zoological Gardens.


In África we stop at Sossusvlei, in the Namib Desert, Namibia, a desert of clay that creates photogenic and high red dunes.


We had already seen River Li in Guangxi province in “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” but it has so many spectacular angles, with its brusque hills apearing and desappearing covered with trees amidst the water, that I loved discovering more.


The most classical touch comes from Hadrian’s Villa, (Villa Adriana) in Tivoli, near Rome. Yep, that Hadrian emperor chap from Marguerite Yourcenar book who built in the 2nd Century this small city with palaces and thermal baths because he wasn’t happy with Monte Palatino palace. (Rich kid’s problem, you’d say, but hey, it was his house). Maybe because the emperor himself was an avid traveller, the Villa has Egyptian and Greek influences.


Back to America, we find the Salar de Uyuni, the biggest salt desert of the world located in the Bolivian Altiplano at an altitude of 3.650 metres that has gifted photographers with many almost surreal images, be it because of the moonlike landscape of the salt plains or because of the reflection of the sky in the thin water sheets that are formed.


A very different landscape from the green burst of the Cambodian jungle, where Bayon khmer temple stands, in Angkhor Thom, not far away from the famous Angkor Wat. Among the bas-relief scenes, misterious giant faces guard the place.


Very different from the statues and the towers from Charles Bridge (Karlův most) in Prague, Czech Republic. If we want to, by the way, we can actually believe that the image of John of Nepomuk, who died by being tossed over the same bridge (not very fortunate for him, alas) brings us good luck.


If you don’t have enough with the travelling, you can enjoy as a pork in the mud with the movie’s wardrobe. None the less, by the imaginative designer Eiko Ishioka. You probably already know her original work: Eiko Ishioka’s Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula costumes were a landmark not only in her craft but were so innovative, that they stuck in the audience’s memories.



The Fall landscapes haven’t just fascinated me, so there are a few blogs with impressive stills of the movie that also try to chart the hero’s journey:
Like here,
and here.

I just carried the torch a bit further on.

And here is the The Fall trailer:

Feeling any wanderlust right now?

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