The story takes place in 1920 at a hospital in Los Angeles. A child with a fractured arm befriends a stuntman who got paralyzed after a bad fall while shooting a war film. He is in constant pain. To be able to inveigle the child to scout for morphine from the pharmacy, Roy (the stuntman, played by Lee Pace) weaves a fairy tale about a corrupt emperor – and the 6 men (an explosions expert; a Native American Indian; a runaway slave; an East Indian swordsman; a masked bandit; and Charles Darwin) who vow for vengeance. This milieu allows an out-of-this-world adventure to begin through visually succulent regions from the far reaches of the world.
Each frame becomes an eye-popping art canvas. I was in constant awe.
Visual spectacle is Tarsem’s domain. He seems to focus more on the imagery than the story. This was evident in an earlier work with Jennifer Lopez, “The Cell”. However, if a story teller wants a more engaging story that’s remembered long after the credit roll, a movie should equally focus on an accessible story line.
I highly recommend this movie for its spectacularly magical visuals – a feat that’s unfortunately rarely observed in contemporary cinema. Can’t wait to watch Tarsem Singh’s next film.
Here are some interesting trivias about the movie from imdb:
· This movie is inspired by the Bulgarian movie Yo ho ho (1981).
· The film was shot on 26 locations over 18 countries. Bertrand’s Home was shot in 60 countries.
· The director claims that there are no special effects in the film despite its surreal looks. Everything was shot on real locations. Cinematography is by Colin Watkinson.
· A miscommunication between the casting agent and Catinca Untaru (who played the little girl Alexandria) led her to believe that Lee Pace (Roy) was a real-life paraplegic. Director Tarsem Singh found that this brought an added level of believability to their dialogue, so he decided to keep almost the entire cast and crew under the same impression. Singh had to speak to the actor playing Alexandria's father and explain that his role was smaller than it appeared, since the script implied that he played the role of the bandit (actually played by Pace) in the fantasy scenes. Apparently it was hard to keep up the lie - a makeup artist walked into a room to find Pace standing and almost passed out from shock.