I walked out of The Fall thinking about some things that I don’t understand, and here are just a few.

I don’t understand why director Tarsem Singh has directed only one other feature length film, 2000’s visually stimulating but otherwise abominable Jennifer Lopez vehicle The Cell.

I don’t understand why Lee Pace doesn’t get more work in film.

But mostly I don’t understand why more movies like this don’t get made. The Fall is hands down the most beautiful film I’ve seen this year; Tarsem’s eye for stirring landscapes and intriguing, surreal images creates some of the most remarkable sequences put to film in recent memory. Images like a blood soaked burial cairn set against a stunning desert horizon seem like they’re pulled right from a dream, or, in the case of the stunning and all too briefly explored Labyrinth of Despair, a nightmare.

Indeed, these scenes are crafted in the mind’s eye of Alexandria, (played by the adorable and perfectly cast Cantica Untaru) the precocious, charming and wily young migrant laborer whose broken arm keep her confined to a hospital in sun washed 1920’s L.A. It’s during her stay here that she meets Roy Walker (Pace), a silent film stuntman who recently lost his legs performing a foolhardy stunt.

Determined to take his own life but powerless to put his plan into motion, Roy enlists Alexandria’s unwitting assistance. As he begins weaving the story of 5 legendary heroes, the bored and lonely girl latches on to the tale, becoming as much storyteller as audience. Eventually, she reluctantly fetches the morphine that Roy needs as much as she needs the escape provided by this epic tale that Roy’s simple story becomes to her. It’s through her eyes that we see Roy’s fantastic tale unravel, and she also provides the frame for the story inside the hospital. It’s refreshing to note that, while less awe inducing than it’s more mythic counterpart, is compelling and carefully crafted, and some of the film’s finest performances take place not in the shimmering fantasy, but the shady and isolated hospital corridors.

But the fantastic elements of the story take the cake. From an elephant swimming through a sapphire reef to a daring raid on a desert caravan to the legion of ebon helmed warriors that floods the staircases of an Escheresque courtyard, The Fall presents one breathtaking image after another, topping itself with grace and ease. Through Alexandria’s imagination and Tarsem’s innovative and masterful vision, we too become enraptured by Roy’s story, staring at the screen slack jawed and moved beyond all reason. Ultimately, The Fall succeeds because it succeeds in making one remember the sense of wonder that we watched movies with as children. I can pay it no higher compliment than that.

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