Great Movie Openings will be an ongoing article which focuses on 1 film that know how to grab you from scene 1.
Today’s Scene is from: The Fall
There is a lot of talk about ‘art films’, mostly maligning pretention. Tarsem’s ‘The Fall’ is probably one of the truest visions of that title. The movie itself is like a giant canvas, it is so beautiful to look at and features some of the most creative/stunning images I’ve seen ever put in film. The movie uses color and set and costume so well to its story that each frame could be in and of itself a masterpiece.
What is so striking about the opening of The Fall is that it is shot entirely in black and white. For a film that is drenched in color it really is a shock to see this beginning. The first shot is of a man’s head piercing the surface of water, in slow-motion, each droplet falling around him like a helmet. He exhales, and along with the drops of water the title appears with smoke behind it. A man appears from the smoke dressed in cowboy attire, using his hat to push through the smoke.
Each shot in the opening is so crisp and clear and it fully takes you by surprise. Shots of men and women running or yelling, are interspersed with shots of what looks like leg armor with an arrow shot into it in the middle of a rushing river. We aren’t certain of the time period and not sure what it is we are seeing. Is this a battle? An accident? Who are these people and what are they doing?
What is even more perfect is the use of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in A Major. The music seems to carry the scenes; almost floating along with the slow motion. We see men standing by a train bridge, throwing a rope slowly down toward the water where 2 men are swimming below. Soon a crane is brought in. We see two people sitting far off; both look like classic twenties and thirties actors who look nonchalantly back at this scene. And surprisingly, a horse is pulled out of the water and hanging below the bridge as the opening ends. It feels so surreal and otherworldly with the music and the slow motion and the hyperrealism of the black and white.
The Fall is such a creative film, and filled with so much life and beauty. It’s a movie that would be perfect to see on an IMAX screen, but it still retains its beauty even on the small screen.
Watch the opening and the trailer below: