Movie Talk :: The Fall: An Anti-Suicide Story

So, you know how Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is my favorite movie and I'll talk about it forever? The Fall is another movie I can and will talk about forever. Here's the last time I wrote about it.  (I made a video 2 years ago talking about my love of these movies. It will never die.)

This is all spoilers.

Recently I've been thinking about The Fall and people on Tumblr have been posting screencaps and gifs of Lee Pace from it. It got me thinking about how much this movie is an anti-suicide movie. 

It starts with Alexandria's injury, when she fell out of the orange tree on the orchard where her family worked, and broke her arm. From there in the hospital we meet Roy, a stunt actor who has ended up with severe leg/spinal/ injuries from jumping off of a railroad to a river in a gully. Well, he jumped off of something. The character is supposed to be the dashing hero and Roy is his stand in.  

After this injury Roy learns that the girl he loves never loved him and wants to kill himself, because being melodramatic is vogue. 

But! 

But Roy cannot retrieve the painkillers he wants to use to overdose, he starts twisting words and manipulating a earnest child. Young Alexandria, starts an unlikely friendship with Roy when he decides from the beginning to use her to help his own selfish needs. This shows just how twisted and pervasive depression and suicide are. They put on a happy, friendly mask when inside the core of the person is rotten, dank and terrible. 

Roy gets Alexandria onto his side, he gets her to trust him by telling an interesting story of revenge and action. 5 people wronged by an evil empire and their journey to end it, they all come from a broken start. This story, the fictional story within the movie is vibrant and gorgeous. It shows how a different demeanor, a mentally healthier person, can take the dark from one person and read it differently. It's a bit the naivety of youth but also the brightness that is more possible in a child than an adult. 

I think, had we seen this entire story through Roy's eyes it would have been painted darker, more twisted and corrupt, the fun distractions would have been terrifying demons between the brief moments of retaliation. 

Near the middle of the movie Roy makes his first suicide attempt. It fails which breaks Roy that much more. And now his demons are out and they affect Alexandria, she wants to help him. Roy and his story have given her something entertaining past her child heartbreak when he learns that the people you idolize may not be as shiny and golden in reality as they are in your eyes. Alexandria faces her fears because she feels the need to cling onto the horribly broken Roy and help him. His story  and companionship click for her because she she feels like no one else is on her side, and everything Roy says she thinks is for her. 

Alexandria gets injured, this time a concussion, after trying to get more morphine pills for Roy. He tells her he needs to sleep, and she just wants to help. Her attempt to help him and the following admonishments from nurses and doctors in the hospital show Roy that his life has value. He is valuable to someone, even though he was just using her he feels awful. The only person he wants to hurt is himself, but seeing this vibrant and eager life almost destroyed because of his shit Roy fails. He fails at breaking her spirit like his is broken. Alexandria takes over telling the story and helps Roy by showing him that other people are important, not just the one woman who broke his heart.  

If failing to commit suicide, Roy is given a small opportunity to see how his actions affect other people. He's entirely broken by the time Alexandria is injured. He tries to kill everyone in the story but she stops him because she still has hope, and she can see that he's not all rotten. Roy is forced to face his actions, take responsibility for what almost happened, but to also understand how he needs to move on from his perceived slight. There are other people who value him and he understand that that's enough. 

We see at the end of the movie he was going to kill himself over a perceived slight and now little it would have affected the movie he was in, but that there were people in his life who would notice and care. 

All of this made me just realize that this movie, in a way, is very anti-suicide.  People will care, and some people will help you by mistake, because the words you spin will be that sweet. But remember, if they'll help kill you at the wrong time, they'll also help you survive and continue on, it's not fair to use your confusion and your problems against them.  

If you're feeling down, take care of yourself. Links for help here and here.  

 

 

Movie Talk: The Fall (2006)

There will be spoilers. This movie is also a few years old. You can watch it on Amazon instant

I was thinking about the Heroes Quest and how it relates to The Fall, also a bit of feminism and movie ratings. Over on tumblr, I saw and queued this post criticizing (female) mutilation in rated R movies versus consensual (or otherwise) explicit sex in NC-17 movies. In criticizing the MPAA (I've done that a number of times in my old movie/tv blog) I was thinking about The Fall, why I wouldn't strictly follow it's R-rating, and why I personally would have little problem showing it to a far younger child. When I got my copy of it I first thought about showing it to my 8 year old sister. The mature ideas aren't really explicit, they are shown in an artistic and narratively complex way so I feel the movie can be enjoyed by both a while and and adult audience at the same time. There are mature concepts, but the child-adult interaction is fascinating, especially knowing about the little girl. 

So many ideas, let's start with the girl, Alexandra. She's in the hospital for having a broken arm. It's the 20s and she's the child of an immigrant farm worker. While being mischievous and wandering the hospital because she likes one of the nurses she meets Roy who has injured his legs or his back as a stunt actor. She returns to him day after day to hear him tell this great epic.

The girl who plays Alexandra was about 5 or 6 during the filming, she didn't know that Lee Pace the actor playing Roy could actually walk, and she was actually learning English as the movie progressed, so her development is there on film for the four months or however long the movie was filmed. They had set ups so she wouldn't always be directly aware that she was being filmed. There's no way she understood the second narrative of the film which is why I would love to show it to a kid, there are two narratives as this adult and child interact. It's kind of crazy. 

The story Roy is telling Alexandria, is about The Black Knight (Roy) seeking revenge for the murder of his brother. On this journey are an old mystic, a black hunter, an Indian, an Italian explosives expert and Charles Darwin. They eventually rescue a woman who has to be killed but doesn't die because of fate. She ends up with the bad guy. The heroes are traveling chasing the bad guy all around the world and Alexandria shows up in the story with Roy and everyone else as his daughter. We get to the final showdown and Roy wins, defeating the bad guy and goes home with Alexandria, after all their friends have died to protect her when Roy wasn't able to. 

What happened to The Black Knight and why couldn't he/Roy save the day? Roy was a stunt actor and was in love with the female lead in a movie he was filming that he was injured working on. She never loved him and broke his heart after his body broke. He tried to kill himself and Alexandria who cares so much for this guy gets a head injury trying to get him pills that will only kill him because she's too young to know what taking a bunch of morphine pills will do.

The narrative is kind of the hero's journey wrapped into the revenge narrative in an interesting fashion. There's never a damsel in distress, there is a woman saved but her being captured wasn't to hurt the male hero. Her being rescued changes him from being a heartless  seeker of vengeance to someone who cares about the people around him until she betrays him by having been in a relationship with the Bad Guy. There's a scene where Alexandria gets a second injury herself but this is after she's changed and has been encouraged to be brave and honorable by the story that she is able to help Roy and The Black Knight by becoming a character in the story. 

Both Alexandria and Roy go through important changes over the course of the movie and Alexandria is kind of more important than Roy because he may be telling her the story, what we see in the story world is her understanding of the world around her. When Roy mentions there's an Indian he mentions his squaw. When Alexandria imagines this Indian in the story-world she images a man from India because that's what she knows. The strength of both character's personalities is amazing. Both are needed for the stories to both work out. Having a respect for children and an understanding of how they thing is important to understanding the two worlds and the reminder that there are different things valuable in both. 

The movie also showcases the power of imagination and storytelling. Stories are powerful, they don't just entertain, they also teach and the audience needs to be receptive of the story for the meaning to be well understood. I don't think I mentioned this before, but the locations in the movie are gorgeous, as a period piece I think they did a great job of establishing the world and bringing over the little things from the real world that inspired Alexandria's understanding of the story world. 

The Fall is crazy, beautiful and weird. I love it, I love watching it and thinking about it because there's so much and it's not just a normal hero's journey, there's so much that influences it. I don't think that the story-world inside the movie could exist and make any type of sense without the 'real world' narrative. I think the real world narrative could exist without showing the story world, but that would be visually boring, and it also wouldn't show how the two injured characters are affecting one another. When Alexandria takes over the story and injects herself into it, it asserts her importance as a person and makes her an active participant in both worlds. 

Like everything I write, I feel this went a little off track. The Fall is a great movie, gorgeous locations and a complex self-paralleling narrative as these injured people help one another. They may no realize how much they influence one another in the moment, but by the end of the movie both characters have been changed by the experiences they had.