So he told them this parable…
This is a surrealistic film that I do not really understand, and yet it is filled with such strange and beauti ful images that I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway. Taking place in a Los Angeles hospital around 1915 when movies did not speak, it concerns injured stunt man Roy (Lee Pace) and a little girl named Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), also recovering from a fall. Bored and despairing of life because he has lost his lover, Roy tells Alexandria dashing stories set in exotic lands. He intends the setting to be among Indians and squaws and wigwams, but the little girl does not know what a squaw or a wigwam is, so she imagines the setting as being in the Asian subcontinent of domed temples and swamis. Throughout the film we hear Roy telling the story, but we see it through the girl’s fertile imagination.
I will not attempt to describe more, the Black Bandit (Roy) and his exotic friends, including a monkey, and of course a villain who runs off with the princess. We eventually see Roy’s dark motive for enthralling his young visitor: he wants her to steal a lethal drug from the hospital pharmacy so that he can end his life.
Director/writer Tarsem Singh comes from a long experience directing music videos, his one previous feature film being The Cell. The Fall, exploring the power of a child’s imagination within an adult world wherein she is powerless, called to mind Pan’s Labyrinth. However, it is far less coherent, requiring a second viewing, at least for this viewer, before I can even begin to say I understand it. Be sure to see it with a friend so that you can share both your confusion and your insights. You are unlikely to see such a strange but fascinating movie for the rest of the year.