If a picture is worth a thousand words, The Fall by Tarsem Singh is Borges’ Library of Babel.

It would certainly be possible to put in a detailed synopsis, but such a thing would be almost irrelevant to the film.  So I’ll be very quick about it:  A 1920s movie stuntman has lost his girlfriend to the leading man and in a suicidal act jumps his horse off of a bridge.  While recuperating in the hospital, he meets an inquisitive young girl named Alexandria who speaks only broken English and begins telling her a fantastical story which starts merely because he notes the origin of her name — the majority of the film is the story as imagined by Alexandria.  Once he has her hooked, he uses the story as the stick-and-carrot to get her to steal some morphine which he intends to use for, once again, suicide.  Never fear, there’s a happy ending.

There, that’s the plot, and that’s really all the plot you need.  Now here are the pictures:

Only the horse died

Only the horse died

The heroine will eventually save the villain

The heroine will eventually save the villain

Alexandria would have told Alexander the Great's story differently

Alexandria would have told Alexander the Great's story differently

A mystic emerges from a tree

A mystic emerges from a tree

And defeats a whole host of soldiers

And defeats a whole host of soldiers

Who, oddly enough, dress a lot like scary 1920s-era radiologists

Who, oddly enough, dress a lot like scary 1920s-era radiologists

And the group of heroes accepts the companionship of the mystic

And the group of heroes accepts the companionship of the mystic

Our heroes include Charles Darwin

Our heroes include Charles Darwin

A tribal figure who is a dead ringer for the hospital's ice delivery man

A tribal figure who is a dead ringer for the hospital's ice delivery man

And an Indian, seen here in front of his teepee, thinking his squaw is safely locked inside

And an Indian, seen here in front of his teepee, thinking his squaw is safely locked inside

Governor Odious kills the Blue Bandit's twin brother

Governor Odious kills the Blue Bandit's twin brother

Chasing Odious, they capture the most beautiful woman in the world

Chasing Odious, they capture the most beautiful woman in the world

And arrive at the blue city

And arrive at the blue city

Where they are betrayed

Where they are betrayed

And the main characters are killed off

And the main characters are killed off

Until only our narrator (as the blue bandit) and our heroine remain

Until only our narrator (as the blue bandit) and our heroine remain

That’s about it.  I would like to include one final picture, one of the most stunning in the film, where a dissolve from an old man’s face leads to the following scene.

Squint and you can still see him

Squint and you can still see him

All-in-all, the single most visually stunning film I’ve ever seen.  Bar none.

And it was apparently done without computer effects.  Not this shot, the whole movie.  Or so the New York Times leads me to believe.

Is the movie a bit overly sentimental?  Yes.  But just try taking your eyes off of it.

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