On analysis of Tarsem Singh’s the fall it shows that our experience affects how we visualize and tell stories. The fantasy of global mobility (an important thematic and visual motif in The Fall) is embodied and articulated in the film's narrative and its production process. The
the story is propelled by the inclination to show remote locations around the world, selling
exotic, "othered" landscapes to a global film audience.
In the Fall, overlapping hospital stays allow a bed-ridden man and an inquisitive five-year-old girl to strike up a friendship. Roy, a failed movie stuntman, and Alexandria a child of migrant workers with a broken arm stave off mutual boredom during their recovery by spinning stories. The title of the film refers in part to the way the pair gained their injuries: Roy's fall during a dangerous stunt has left him paralyzed, and Alexandria's broken arm is the result of falling from a tree while working in an orange grove. Set in the early twentieth century, The Fall pairs the relatively-recent narrative form of moving pictures with traditional oral storytelling. To pass time in the hospital, Roy tells Alexandria the story of the film he was working on before his accident--a cliché silent serial complete with cowboys, Indians and a damsel in distress--but Alexandria's imagination transforms Roy's words into a fantasy of her own creation. the film's formal structure is composed of two intercut narrative trajectories; the film moves easily between Alexandria and Roy in the hospital and the technicolor fantasy of the nested narrative. Essential to this analysis, however, is that the nested or embedded narrative of the adventure story is told firmly from Alexandria's point of view. The framing (or primary-level) story is likewise constructed to privilege Alexandria's subjective point of view, but it is through the nested story that Singh allows us to witness the little girl's interpretation of Roy's linguistic information.
A disjuncture between the spoken and heard narrative occurs frequently in the film, and most noticeably early on as part of a visual pun. At their first meeting, Roy tells Alexandria a short story about Alexander the Great. He then learns that Alexandria had befriended a family of fellow migrant workers, a Sikh family. Presuming an interest in India, Roy promises to tell Alexandria a story set in that country in the future. When she returns, however, he has forgotten his promise and begins to tell her the story from the film he had been working on, which from the framing story's prologue appears to be set in the Old West. As a Western, then, the character of "The Indian" in Roy's narrative is therefore meant to refer to a Native American man, but in the embedded narrative (Alexandria's interpretation), the character labelled or signified as The Indian is played by the same actor as Alexandria's Sikh friend from the orange groves. This mishearing is confirmed when Roy's voiceover...