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.