Taking from his music video background of surreally nightmarish visions, director Jonathan Glazer delivered a surprise seven-minute short last year entitled The Fall. The description says it all: “a masked mob cruelly punish a lone masked man.” We see them shake the tree to which their victim clings tightly, pick him up off the forest floor, affix a noose around his neck, and let him descend through a seemingly never-ending pit beneath the gallows. The ordeal is off-putting in its lack of context and eerily disturbing in its use of masks to project permanent expressions onto each character rather than allow the actors to present a fluid progression of emotion. Should we take it at face value as a dark curio? Or is there room to delve deeper?
I’m sure the latter is the case, but I’ve no idea where to begin as far as finding an entrance point. That’s okay, though, since I do believe it works on its own as a mood piece—a conceptual music video for Mica Levi‘s haunting, propulsive score. Conjuring purpose beyond that is mere speculation unless Glazer himself provides a more concrete answer. Is it a commentary on our collective futility and our penchant to destroy ourselves like animals at the dawn of time? Is it racially motivated with its lynch mob? Politically motivated considering its release coming months before an impending Brexit move in his home of England and impeachment here in the States? Or is it just a manifestation of rage marked by its glimmer of hope?
There’s definitely a lot to chew on such as the point of a noose when you aren’t actually hanging the man whose neck it circles. Did the group think there was a point and somehow got caught off-guard once he kept falling with rope trailing rapidly behind him? Do they therefore look down in satisfaction that he’s gone? Or is it shock that he isn’t swinging from a broken neck? I guess that duality might be exactly what Glazer is going for since we so often act before thinking under an assumption based on that which we seek to achieve. These people are so riled up for something they may not fully understand that they go through the motions without looking at the literal ground under their feet.