Monday, August 9, 2010

Tarsem's The Fall--Some Thoughts

Catinca Untaru, star of The Fall

I'm not sure where I heard about The Fall. Definitely not via a typical review.

Here's a typical review. Maybe reviewers tend to get tired of watching movies. This particular slashing goes the extra mile and insults anyone who happens to like the movie. Go if you're stoned, it says. You'll like it if you're stoned.

This, in another context, is called framing. I'm very glad I watched the movie before reading any of this stuff. You might do likewise, actually, but I want to talk a little bit about the larger implications of the movie, as it resides in our current world, filled as it is with loud voices encouraging us to engage in a war with a whole religion--Islam--and to see the world beyond our very special, freedom loving borders, as warped, crippled, broken, paralized, almost suicidal, and in desperate need of what America seems capable of delivering--baptism by fire.

Lately there's been two different ranting themes from the American right, both centering on the 14th Amendment (how curious). On the one hand we find the so-called "Anchor Baby" issue, something Lindsey Graham, the "nice" Senator from the Pimento State, describes as mothers coming here to "drop" babies. The goal of these foes of one of the most generous features of a Constitution that, let's recall, was forged by slave-owners--why to get rid of said feature of course, and to make even the act of being born contain a criminal aspect. Then there's the other thing about the 14th Amendment--equal protection--just last week given form in the brilliant and courageous ruling in San Francisco that, as is of course obvious, a person in the Land of the Free should have the freedom to marry the person they love, period, end of story. Even our sitting President, Barack Obama, isn't quite on board with this ruling, although his so-called "position" on the matter is transparently a valiant effort to keep the issue from being tied around his neck like an anchor by the hateful and hate filled bigots who already are convinced he's a Communist Manchurian Candidate from Kenya or Indonesia.

The other theme of hate which seems to fill the air-ways these days is the "Mosque at Ground Zero" story. This too has an equal protection facet, well described by New York's Mayor Bloomberg when he explained the decision to allow the building of the Mosque, which actually isn't "at" Ground Zero at all--but of course hate marketers care little for nuance and clarity unless these abstract features happen to serve their interests. For more on this part of the story, see:,_extremism_at_ground_zero_%28again%29__/

Ever since 9/11/01, the Hate Merchants have wanted the United States to declare war on Islam. Since we had an extremely limited person as President at the moment of the event, coupled with a shrewd manipulator with an eye on U.S. strategic oil reserves and their gigantic economic implications, the Administration met hate half way and declared war on Terror, although it maintained a position as contradictory as that of Mr. Obama with regard to marriage, attacking Terror with buzz bombs which frequently killed random passerby as well or instead of the actual terrorist targets--which would of course be a method of Terrorism, just as it was when Germany used it against London. Oh yes, indeed I do understand that in the case of the highly sophisticated buzz bombs (no doubt manufactured in the Pimento State, which bizarrely has a crescent moon and a palm tree on its State tie--I happen to know because I was married wearing such a tie)we are able to direct their course with a high degree of accuracy from computers in air-conditioned rooms 10,000 miles away from the targets, which means that we can hit exactly the house we are aiming for, or the jeep even, whereas the buzz bombs just kinda rained down willy-nilly. That is a difference for sure.

But getting back to The Fall. I'm not sure what the critics' problem is, aside from an over-dose of cynicism, and an over-abundance of literalism, or at least literalism of a certain kind. The Fall is about the world. Its perspective is a dual but related one--it sees the world with the wonder of a child, and with the Olympian grasp of someone who has lived in the lands of Islam and other religions and cultures. Tarsem tells a simple, child's story to keep the stern logicians in their seats long enough to be inoculated by the poetry and beauty their logic endeavors to disregard. In the end, the suicide weeps and apologizes to the child, who forgives him. The Fall is even an act of love--apparently Tarsem spent his own fortune to get it made, with all those real locations, with even an elephant swimming in the ocean.

The two short documentaries of the making of The Fall which accompanied the DVD I rented are also worth watching. In them you will see hundreds of people who live in the locations, watching the filming. Try to think of them as the face of "collateral damage," for that is what they are. At the moment they remain more or less neutral. The lunatic who devised the events we call 9/11 has managed to get the United States to waltz with him in this decade-long dance of death. This Fall we may well turn back towards a war with Iran. That's what the haters seem to yearn for. Miss Untaru is from Romania as it happens. She might as well be from Iran, one of the few locations Tarsem was unable to film in.

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