FALLS, THE(director/writer: Peter Greenaway; cinematographers: Mike Coles/John Rosenberg; editor: Peter Greenaway; music: Michael Nyman/Brian Eno; cast: Peter Westley, Aad Wirtz, Michael Murray, Lorna Poulter, Patricia Carr, Adam Leys, Mary Howard, Sheila Canfield, Evelyn Owen, Hilary Thompson, Carole Myer, Monica Hyde, Colleen Thomas, Neil Hopkins, Dewi Thomas, Peter Sacre, Keith Pendlebury, Robert Warby; Runtime: 195; MPAA Rating: NR; Zeitgeist; 1980-UK)
“The film is deranged and hypnotic.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Experimental filmmaker Peter Greenaway (“The Pillow Book”/”Prospero’s Books”/”The Belly of an Architect”) shoots early on in his career a whimsical mockumentary that obsesses over lists. It’s a bizarre film set in an idyllic future after VUE (Violent Unknown Event), a mysterious, apocalyptic phenomenon that might be diabolically related to birds who schemed to take over the world. It results in 92 invented new languages, four sexes and those affected behaving like birds or developing a tremendous passion for them. It’s done in a dazzling visual style, as a narrator voices in an exacting detail the miniature bios of 92 case histories of those who have been affected by the VUE (we’re told that 19 million people around the world were affected by this catastrophe) and the clip also offers whatever relevant comments each VUE victim cares to make. All those chosen are from the British Standard Directory of sufferers and have been selected on the basis that their surnames begin with the letters ‘Fall.’ Don’t ask why, but those letters do sound apocalyptic and the theme seems to be about the fall of mankind (though I believe anyone can make their own interpretation of the film and most views would somehow fit).
Michael Nyman provides the weird score and, the father of ambient music, Brian Eno, adds his equally eerie two bits to that score.
The film is deranged and hypnotic, and can possibly only be enjoyed by those who like riddles, puns, Zen, avant-garde cinema, The Quay Brothers, Children’s Stories, Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” Magritte, non-linear storytelling, ornithologists and strange mind-trips. Other film fans be warned that the content here though clever, erudite, droll humored and inventive, is nevertheless not for all tastes. For those willing to take the plunge into this kind of unique form of absurdist farce, be prepared for a three-and-a-quarter-hour ride into a new form of cinema that exposes you to the poetical mind of the idiosyncratic, playful and highly imaginative world of Greenaway.
REVIEWED ON 10/22/2007 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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