7.5/10
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18 user 19 critic

The Falls (1980)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Sci-Fi | 24 July 1996 (France)
92 BBC documentary-style shorts that record the lives of 92 victims of the VUE (Violent Unexplained Event), each with last names beginning with "Fall."

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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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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
...
Narrator (as Hilary Thompson)
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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cinema | disaster | mutants | parody | bird | See All (14) »

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Comedy | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

24 July 1996 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Balesetek krónikája  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Some of the location work for this film was done in the Lleyn Peninsula in Wales, and Peter Greenaway received extensive help at this time from members of the local Film Society. In gratitude, he offered to allow them to give the film its first-ever public screening as the first offering of their new season. The fact that it was a world premiere received extensive publicity, as did Greenaway's presence on the evening, and the committee of the society made it a members-only event to bolster their finances. As a result, on the night of the showing, the Lleyn Film Society had more members than ever before, but the actual showing of the film proved something of a disaster - audience members began walking out after only twenty minutes or so, and by the last half-hour of the film (which is over three hours long), the only people left in the auditorium were Greenaway and the committee members. Subsequent showings of the society were poorly attended. See more »

Connections

References The Owl and the Pussycat (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

Hitchcock in a filing cabinet.
15 November 1998 | by 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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