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The Falls (1980) More at IMDbPro »

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Release Date:
1980 (UK) See more »
The planet has been affected by a mysterious occurrence known as the Violent Unknown Event, or V.U.E... See more » | Add synopsis »
1 win & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
One of a kind avant-garde epic See more (18 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)
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
Peter Sacro
Keith Pendlebury
Robert Worby
Marcia Pendlebury

Stephen Quay

Timothy Quay
Tom Hunsinger
Martin Burrows ... Narrator
Maggie Palmer
Adejbo Nkasaggi
Maurice Tarplin (as Maurice Tarlin)
Patrick Whitney
Alicia Webb
Sandra Williams
Garry Morris
Richard Jenkins
Serena MacBeth ... Narrator
John Wilson
Leslie Wilson
Gabor Vernon
Rod Stoneman
Howard Milner
Aet Nyman
Teet Toome
Reeta Toome
Alfret Toome
Martin Pawky
Jeremy Tarling
Graham Jones
Chris Auty
Glyn Fielding
Chris Rodriquez
John Lea
Alice Skillings
Michelle Caborn
Simon Fea
Kenneth Breese
Edith Lazenby
Nigel Algar
Lucy Finch
Donald Lazenby
Terry Lansbury
Freida Jones
Pat Hopkins
Peter Sainsbury
Ian Lake
David Cowper
Sarah Cowper
Lucy Skeaping
Herbert Mullinger
Christine Metcalfe
Christopher Metcalfe
Lilian Mullinger
Marion Brame
Wendy Evans
Bob Godfrey ... G. Odfrey
Mick O'Connor
Reina James
Chris Thomas
Alderich Asonbryl
Dorothy Bradley
Udi Eichler
Cathy Lake
Dave Lawton
Brigitte Kahn
Glennys Williams
John W. Hyde (as John Hyde)
Christopher Williams
Gillian Tarlin
Russel Flint
J.J. Czipri
Lucia Apel
Molly Nyman
Rachel Penfold
Simon De Quincey

Peter Greenaway ... Interviewer
Colin Haap
Colin Berwick
Anthony Sloman ... Person (as Tony Sloman)
Peter Nage
Colin Cantlie ... Narrator
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Cedric Pheasant

Directed by
Peter Greenaway 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Peter Greenaway 

Original Music by
Michael Nyman 
Cinematography by
Mike Coles 
John Rosenberg 
Film Editing by
Peter Greenaway 
Sound Department
Tony Anscombe .... dubbing mixer
Mick Audsley .... sound
Malcolm Hirst .... sound
Dave Lawton .... sound
Digby Rumsey .... sound
Diana Ruston .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
David Bough .... assistant camera
Glynn Fielding .... grip
Donald Lazenby .... still photographer
Tex Ledcote .... additional camera operator
Michael Nyman .... still photographer
David Scott .... assistant camera
Andrew Speller .... assistant camera
Bert Walker .... camera operator: rostrum camera
Francine Winham .... additional camera operator
Music Department
Rory Allam .... musician
Brian Eno .... composer: additional music
Barbara Grant .... musician
Ben Grove .... musician
Ian Mitchell .... musician
Michael Nyman .... conductor
Michael Nyman .... musician
Keith Pendlebury .... composer: additional music (as Kieth Pendlbury)
Steve Saunders .... musician
Lucy Skeaping .... musician
Doug Wootton .... musician
Kenneth Breese .... special acknowledgment
Bernie Brown .... special acknowledgment
David Cowper .... special acknowledgment

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
195 min
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

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 »
Movie Connections:
References Wings (1927)See more »


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One of a kind avant-garde epic, 14 May 2015
Author: Red-Barracuda from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

I reckon that The Falls has to go down as the best thing that director Peter Greenaway has ever did. It marks the end of his early years when his work mainly took the format of short films. In a way The Falls takes this form too, in that it is essentially made up of a multitude of self-contained short films, albeit ones with an overall theme and connection. More specifically, it takes the format of a mockumentary, one that mimics the dry BBC style. Set in the near future, it centres on the fallout of an unexplained occurrence known as the Violent Unknown Event, in which a large number of people experience certain changes, including physical mutations and the ability to speak a variety of new hitherto unknown languages. The cause of this phenomenon remains oblique but it is suggested that it may be in some way related to ornithology. The film is made up of a selection of 92 mini biographies of victims taken from an official catalogue, detailing only individuals whose names begin with the letters F-A-L-L.

The first thing that is apparent about this one is that it is considerably more light-hearted that Greenaway's later feature films. It's full to the brim with absurd humour and the tone remains quite playful much of the time. It really has more in common with his earlier shorts that his later feature films. For one thing, it feels more like an underground movie with much less of a budget. The later films had the cinematography of Sacha Vierney to make them look visually immaculate, yet the more lo-fi approach here kind of feels somewhat more interesting for me. The format overall makes much better use of Greenaway's talents in that it allows for him to try many different things. Each mini-bio allows for a different approach and for a highly experimental film-maker such as Greenaway this lets him flex his avant-garde muscles quite freely. Of course, some parts are more interesting than others and there are some sections that are somewhat tedious. But pleasingly often he hits home with some genuinely fascinating left-field oddity and, in any case, if one part isn't grabbing your attention it will soon be followed by something else. There are many moments of visual invention of various kinds; Greenaway is able to dabble in differing types of avant-garde film-making. Helping matters considerably at times is the score from Michael Nyman, which is often very good; in particular the title theme 'Bird List' is especially wonderful.

Many of Greenaway's peculiarities can be seen here such as the creation of an almost fantasy world of sorts, replete with characters with names so bizarre as to have no connection with our world. Characters do things that go well beyond realism and the tone in general is one of absurdity throughout. There are also characters and events that both refer back to his earlier shorts and which will be used later in his subsequent features. It very much feels like this, along with many of his other films exist within their own little fantasy universe. And of course, his obsessions with list making, numerology, fine art and birds - amongst other things – are consistently adhered to. It is admittedly of an epic length but Greenaway himself has actively encouraged people to watch it in stages or in any order they wish. It's less cold and unpleasant than much of his more famous works and this makes for quite a refreshing change. For me, while it is challenging in many ways, it is the most interesting and enjoyable film he has ever directed and remains one of the best avant-garde films out there.

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