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The Falls

Peter Greenaway
UK 1980 / 195’

Along with F for Fake, this may be this section’s most philosophical film – one referenced by others in inverse proportion to the number of times it is screened. Peter Greenaway’s chronicles of accidents (the apex of which is the later Tulse Luper Suitcases) here shows 92 mysterious deaths of people whose surname begins with Fall. It is a hilarious parody of serious television reporting with a sociological underpinning. Greenaway shows the limits of this method: arbitrary sample selection, superficial description, and impossibility of reaching the truth. Surprisingly, common themes emerge from this mosaic, e.g. dreams of flying or the conspiratorial organization – and catching these is a tasty morsel for the audience.

Jan Topolski


British Film Institute Awards 1980 – Sutherland Trophy

Peter Greenaway

Born in 1942, director and screenwriter, educated painter. Greenaway's most famous films are: The Falls, Drowning by Numbers, The Pillow Book, The Draughtsman's Contract, The Belly of an Architect and A Zed & Two Noughts. His works are very characteristic with their visual momentum, distance from reality and peculiarly theatrical style of imaging. With multiple cultural references and experimental combination of styles they are recognised as the crowning of postmodernist film. Lately, Greenaway has been fascinated with new media, creating video-installations, short experimental films, collaborating with theatres, operas and working as a VJ, too.

Selected filmography

1980 Kronika wypadków / The Falls

1987 Brzuch architekta / Belly of an Architect

1988 Wyliczanka / Drawning by Numbers

1993 Dzieciątko z Macon / The Macon Baby

1999 8 i pół kobiety / 8 ½ Women

2007 Nocna straż / Nightwatching

2008 Rembrandt: oskarżam…! / Rembrandt’s J’Accuse…! (doc.)

Prepared by: Jan Topolski

Cast & Crew

director Peter Greenaway
screenplay Peter Greenaway
cinematography Mike Coles, John Rosenberg
editing Peter Greenaway
music Michael Nyman
cast Peter Westley, Aad Wirtz, Michael Murray, Lorna Poulter, Patricia Carr, Adam Leys, Sheila Canfield, Hilary Thompson, Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay, Peter Greenaway
production British Film Institute
sales Hanway Films
language English
colouration colour