“The Fall”
 
            Once upon a time, somewhere in the 1920’s, in a small hospital in Los Angeles , an injured stuntman (Lee Pace) is feeling sorry for himself on the orthopedic ward.  His girlfriend has left him, and apparently no one is coming to visit him, except for a little girl from upstairs (Catinca Untaru) who broke her arm while picking fruit with her itinerant-farmer family.  The two make for an odd pairing, but they are all they have right now, so he begins to tell her stories, in exchange for her doing the small favor for him of raiding the dispensary so he can just take an overdose and be done with it.  She’s too young to understand his true intentions, but she is fascinated to hear the next episode of the fantastic fantasy adventurers, trying to fight the bad guys, save a captured friend, and get the girl.  Except this is no ordinary band of romantic outlaws, for we have, in no particular order, an Eastern mystic, a cigar-chomping cowboy, an African warrior, an Indian soldier, and an Anglo who fancies himself as Lawrence of Arabia.  No, really.  This is semi-serious, not campy at all, but played completely straight.  Like costuming out of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” characters out of central wardrobe, and travel companions from The Wizard of Oz.   The colors are bright, the backgrounds are stark, the dialogue is sparse, and the dream sequences quickly morph back into the “reality” of the hospital ward, where our two impatient patients begin to care for one another despite themselves.  When you have a Director from India working with screenwriters experienced in music videos and a Romanian child actor, there’s no telling where this is going.  Everything from slow-motion old Hollywood stunt clips to a playful classical score to a very understated romance, with the dark specter of intended suicide casting a shadow over the whole backlit proceedings.  This film is for the truly adventurous moviegoer, because all those expecting standard plot lines and character development and action sequences are bound to be disappointed.  And who would have predicted a dynamite Christ-figure?
 
Questions For Discussion:
1)      When has a stranger been an unexpected comfort to you?  When have you been an unexpected comfort to a stranger?
2)      When have you been depressed, and found it difficult to “snap out of it”?  What finally helped?
3)      When you were a child, did any adult tell you “once upon a time” stories on demand?  If so, have you since returned the favor to a young child?
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas