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With 'The Fall,' he found himself

May 05, 2008|Susan King

The visually stunning drama "The Fall," which opens Friday, was filmed in 24 countries over a four-year period. And it was completely self-financed by its Indian-born director and co-writer, Tarsem ("The Cell").

The leisurely paced film received generally negative reviews when it premiered nearly two years ago at the Toronto Film Festival and languished without a distributor until Roadside Attractions picked it up.

Response to the quirky film continues to be mixed.

"I didn't realize this movie was going to be as polarizing as it is," Tarsem says. "They say it's the biggest thing since sliced bread or the biggest piece of crap."

Set in a Los Angeles hospital in 1915 -- Tarsem actually shot these sequences in South Africa -- "The Fall" stars Lee Pace of "Pushing Daisies" as Roy Walker, a movie stunt man who is unable to walk because he's fallen from his horse. His heart is also battered because his girlfriend ran off with the movie's leading man.

Roy wants to end it all and finds a means to his end when he meets Alexandra (Catinca Untaru), a 5-year-old patient. He begins to tell her an "epic tale of love and revenge," with the caveat that he will only continue the exotic tale if she brings him morphine pills from the pharmacy.

Initially, Tarsem thought the entire film would be set in the hospital. But he decided to shoot the fantasy Roy weaves in the film because "I just broke up with my girl and was completely shattered," he says.

"I felt like going on a magical mystery tour. I told my brother, 'Sell everything, even the house if you have to,' and I went on the road."

And for the next few years, the production shot in such locales as Bali, Fiji and India. When Tarsem learned from his brother that his house really was close to going on sale, he finished shooting and came home.

And Tarsem is no longer shattered. "The house survived," he says. "I got myself a little car and I love a lovely woman."

-- Susan King

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