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The Falls (1980)

 |  Drama, Sci-Fi  |  1980 (UK)
7.5
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The planet has been affected by a mysterious occurrence known as the Violent Unknown Event, or V.U.E. It has caused immortality and disability. Victims have learned new and peculiar ... See full summary »

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Title: The Falls (1980)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Westley
Aad Wirtz
Michael Murray
Lorna Poulter
Patricia Carr
Adam Leys ...
Narrator
Mary Howard
Sheila Canfield ...
Narrator
Evelyn Owen
Hilary Thompson ...
Narrator
Carole Meyer
Monica Hyde
Colleen Thomas
Neil Hopkins
Dewi Thomas
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Storyline

The planet has been affected by a mysterious occurrence known as the Violent Unknown Event, or V.U.E. It has caused immortality and disability. Victims have learned new and peculiar languages. Some firmly believe in the responsibility of birds. In this three-hour film, ninety-two biographies are presented of victims whose surnames begin with the letters F A L L. Presented in the mock documentary style of 'Water Wrackets' and 'Dear Phone', this is the culmination of the first period of Greenaway's work. It refers to shorts such as 'A Walk Through H' and 'Vertical Features Remake', and forwards to the likes of 'Drowning by Numbers' (there is reference to the three generations of Cissie Colpitts). Michael Nyman's sound-track is memorable; he later remade the 'Bird List Song' (which features in a variety of forms), as 'Hands 2 Take' with arty British band the Flying Lizards (best known for their minimal version of 'Money (that's what I want)'. Written by D.Giddings <darren.giddings@newcastle.ac.uk>

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Drama | Sci-Fi

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1980 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Balesetek krónikája  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The recurrences of the number 92 throughout the film (the number of VUE victims, the number of artificial languages, etc.) was partly intended as a homage to composer John Cage's "Indeterminacy", which Greenaway believed contained 92 stories. Cage later informed the director that there were only 90 sections and was much amused by Greenaway's error. See more »

Connections

References Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

Hitchcock in a filing cabinet.
15 November 1998 | by (Manchester, England) – See all my reviews

This is the pinnacle (some might think nadir) of Greenaway's obsession with lists and catalogues (at least so far). An obsessive film about obsession.

The film comprises ninety-two mini-documentaries of a random sample of people who have suffered as a result of the mysterious (and unexplained) "Violent Unknown Event" (or "VUE" for short). Though the VUE produces varying results, there are some common themes, such as bowel problems, skin conditions, and an obsession with birds. Some of the VUE victims even seem to be turning into birds. Though we never find out, it seems clear that "the responsibility of birds" was a key factor in the VUE.

I love this bizarre film. Despite its three hour duration it rarely drags and is witty and urbane. Greenaway uses the space to indulge in some wonderful running gags (especially the tendency of the VUE sufferers to go around in circles), and to make interesting points about the absurdity of statistics and the way in which science dehumanises its subjects by "categorising" them. This last point is subverted by the odd biographical details which Greenaway supplies us with, helping us to see the victims as individuals.

Greenaway has said that one way of viewing the film is as ninety-two different ways to make a documentary. I see it more as a cinematic equivalent of experimental music. It's like minimalism, with a strict repetitive structure which builds towards a dramatic climax. Nyman's score helps immeasurably in this development, beginning as isolated notes and chords, and finishing as an oratorio. The theme he wrote for the opening credits, "The Boulder Orchard", is fabulous.

All the old Greenaway obsessions are here: sex, death, sex and death, water, birds, calligraphy, etc. The Falls is a catalogue of Peter Greenaway as much as anything else.


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