PictureThe Fall literally explodes onto your screen at 1.85:1, 1080p using the MPEG-4/AVC codec. It's incredible that even though this is one of the narrower ratios the vistas that Tarsem and his cinematographer Colin Watkinson, who only worked on one previous feature, come across so well. Width and height are apparent and at times you can actually feel that the ratio is more akin to the 2.35:1 variety.
Colours are a combination of muted light browns, greens and white whilst in the hospital and during these scenes the individual shots are wonderfully presented. There is adequate detail as the consultant walks through the hospital, as Alexandria searches for the morphine tablets which Walker requests and the up close facial pore structure of both Alexandria and Walker. The colours are kept in check in their borders with no bleed on show. During these scenes there is no evidence of any encoding errors whatsoever, no enhancement, blocking or noise.
Once in the imagined world though the palette opens up with gusto. A wealth of colour bursts onto your screens with the primaries deep, bold and again constrained within their respective borders. Additional colours from the blacks of The Bandit's waistcoat, Otta's deep skin colour, the masonry on show from The Taj Mahal and other predominant buildings are again glorious in their presentation, they way they reveal their most intricate structures, subtle shades of the wear they have undertken throughout the years are all presented with absolute precision. Detail in these scenes is further apparent elsewhere, the stitching on our heroes clothing and saddle bags, their sun baked blistering faces, the interiors of the many temples they visit, the Blue City... it really does go on an on, never faltering, never wavering and always something which will no doubt become demo material of choice for those people who enjoy this film. The encoding on a couple of these scenes though falters and they are all the more apparent because they are in such contrast to what we have seen before. In one scene where The Bandit 'buries' his fallen brother and another where Odious' henchmen taunt the captured new league of extraordinary gentlemen there is excessive noise and blocking on show. They stick out of this presentation like a sore thumb, are somewhat distracting in their prominence and as such a bit of a let down for the film as a whole.
Whites either inside or out are excellent, equally blacks are strong and deep, both of course resulting in a good contrast range and again both adding to the perception of depth and the sometimes elusive 3-D factor really good BluRay presentations can give. On the whole this is almost reference quality; let down by the aforementioned glaring errors which just nudge this off that top notch.
SoundThere's only one English track on offer here but at least it is the lossless variety, a Dolby Digital 5.1 TrueHD track which like the video above is almost reference quality. The tonal range is superb from the whispered hushed tones of Walker trying to convince Alexandria to steal morphine, the shrill whistle of bullet and ricochet or the thunderous hooves as horses gallop over a sprawling landscape.
There is very good use of LFE, not excessive and used for the sake of it but used whenever it was needed and used well. The hooves of horses, the explosion of the tree and the deep bass of the background score. The bass is tight and well controlled booming out when needed and cutting short as the scene changes and the tone is no longer required. The crack of Hollywood pistol, the ricochets of bullets on armour or stone, and the crisp smack of steel on steel as sword-fights occur again are well controlled and defined.
There's good steerage from the fronts as horses race from one side of the screen to another, bicycles traverse from right to left, and ambiance from the surrounds in both the real and imagined world. From the real world there's some car noise hovering in the background as the ice wagon or other vehicles arrive at the hospital, general coughs from the hospital patients. In the imagined world flights of arrows come from the rears to the fronts, horses gallop from your right surround again into the frontal stage. Excellent steerage then with good ambiance always pulling you into the those gloriously framed visuals. The dialogue is always centre stage and always clear from the hushed tones to the barked orders of the heroes on their ultimate mission.
- Commentary With Tarsem Singh.
If the film itself never convinced you of Tarsem's love of his film then this commentary will make sure that you have no doubts. It's been a work in the making for 17 years, from initial concepts and writings, scouring the world for the locations then ultimately finding the child actor to play the part of the young girl. There's hardly a breath missed, the commentary is a more than enjoyable affair and one which must be listened to. You'll learn of some of the problems they faced in some locations, how Tarsem allowed Catinca Untaru to play the part as and when she could and how they let the film roll as if it was just a conversation between her and Lee Pace. You'll learn of the themes in the film, why certain things occur which you may have missed on first viewing, the actors, the temperature of the locations, editing, combined effects.. the works. It is one of the best commentaries I have had the pleasure of listening to.
- Commentary With Lee Pace, Nico Soultanakis and Dan Gilroy.
Actor Pace is joined with producer/writer and writer respectfully for this second commentary. It's another lively affair and at times they admit they don't want to talk over it as the film is so beautiful and can almost speak for itself. Some scenes are discussed but it's not a scene by scene dissection but mainly gives some background information into the filming process for The Fall. There are some periods of silence but in the main this commentary if a perfect foil for the first, filling in some gaps in storyline for instance and again is a must listen if you're a fan of this film.
- Deleted Scenes. - 0:01:40 - MPEG-2/1080p
2 scenes with a play all function. Lost and The Good/Bad Priest. The first is throwaway however the second could have been retained as it again highlights the fact that although Walker is telling the story young Alexandria massages it so it fits into her perfect vision of this world.
- Behind the Scenes Featurettes. - 0.58.14 - MPEG-4/480i
Two in total, Wanderlust and Nostalgia and again with a play all function. A little disappointing in that this is only in 480i but the image itself is well presented in its 1.33:1 frame. A fly on the wall documentary with no direct interviews as such just showing the actors and crew on their daily work schedule. Like the two commentaries this is a must see, showing how Tarsem puts his films together. The second is much more of the same, although not covering the earlier works. There's additional scenes covered, particularly some with the young Catinca Untaru and although Tarsem certainly managed to get the best from her at times he does come across as a rather obsessive and dictatorial director.
- Photo Gallery.
A Java enabled slide show offering some still images from this film. Navigate using your left and right handset buttons. On exiting this the disc has to reload which is always a bit of a pain.
for Resident Evil:Degeneration, Starship Troopers 3, Redbelt, Southland Tales, Damages - Season 1, 88 Minutes and When did you last See Your Father.
There's not a lot of additional features here that much is true but what is contained on this disc is lean and fit. All of the pertinent extras, the commentaries and the featurettes must be watched in my opinion. The commentaries I could go back to time and time again, especially the first and that's pretty good praise really I think. So even though lean this still receives a high mark because the information in there I feel is so important to the film as a whole.
VerdictAfter viewing the trailer I expected visual splendour and I certainly got that. All too often with these types of films though that splendour is created at the expense of an engaging storyline. Not with The Fall though, the narrative and the cast playing their own parts in this developing storyline are excellent, really nothing can be taken away from anyone's performance here. I've said it again and I will reiterate, Catinca Untaru is an absolute find. It may be that Tarsem knew how to get the best out of her, it may be that she's a talented natural actress; only time will tell. What's apparent here though is that even at this very very young age she almost carries this film herself.
You want stunning visuals, you have them in all areas of this presentation. When the focus changes to the imagined world though you will see such splender that it really does lift your heart a little. The flowing dancers at the marriage ceremony, the stepped labyrinth, the endless brushed deserts, the contour farmed hills, the temples, costumes. It has it all and it presents them in such a way that you cannot fail but be pulled into every single frame that this film offers up.
I adore this film, and the visuals make it hard to dispassionately review the actual film at times but I feel I have done so and I can honestly say that this is a must watch, an absolute must. You may think it has too many roots in Tarsem's earlier music video work but then you might, and I hope do, feel that this is a visual feast for the eyes and heart and add this one to your collection. This will be watched many times in this household.
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- Commentary With Tarsem Singh.