Watch The Falls
- 3 hr 5 min
The Falls is a 1980 experimental film directed by Peter Greenaway. The movie tells the story of 92 survivors of a mysterious event known as the "Violent Unknown Event," who all have something in common: their surnames all begin with the letters "F-A-L-L". The film is presented as a series of interviews with these 92 individuals, each of whom is given a brief segment to recount their experiences before and after the VUE. The interviews are typically shot in black and white, with the exception of certain scenes which are filmed in vividly coloured filters, with a heavy emphasis on greens, blues and yellows.
While the survivors' stories are bizarre and fantastical, often involving surreal elements such as telekinesis and transformations into animals, they are presented in a deliberately dry and academic style, with each subject's story factually told and listed in a cataloguing system. This formality is emphasised by the use of a voice-over that reads out the surname and interview number of each subject before they speak.
The subjects' experiences range from the fantastical to the mundane, with some describing their newfound abilities and others recounting simple changes to their bodies or environment. Some subjects find these changes to be beneficial, while others find them to be haunting or even tragic.
Throughout the interviews, the survivors attempt to piece together the reasons why they survived the VUE, and what connection their surnames might have to the event. Some speculate that they were chosen for survival by a higher power, while others suggest that their surnames might be an encryption for a hidden message.
As the interviews progress, the sheer number of testimonies and the lack of cohesive narrative creates a sense of confusion and disorientation, mirroring the disorienting effect of the VUE. The viewer is left to draw their own conclusions about what exactly transpired and what it all means.
The film is heavily stylised and experimental in its approach, with Greenaway utilising split-screen techniques and jarring musical interludes to create a sense of dissociation. At points, the film feels more like an art installation or installation piece, with long tracking shots of abandoned factories or close-ups of natural objects such as snowflakes.
Despite its unconventional style and deliberate obfuscation, The Falls is a deeply thought-provoking film that holds up well after 40 years. Even after the credits roll, viewers might find themselves reflecting on the questions raised by the survivors, and what they themselves might do if presented with extraordinary circumstances or surreal changes to themselves or their environment.
The Falls is a 1980 science fiction movie with a runtime of 3 hours and 5 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.2.