Peter Greenaway (born 1 942) may well be the most original talent unearthed by the cinema in many years. His short films have been the subject of considerable, often infuriated debate. In them he has mapped out imaginary worlds and kingdoms and now, with The Falls, he has started to tell in more detail about some of the people who populate these worlds.
He describes this latest film as follows:
"An investigation into biography.
An ideal history of the world is most perfectly told by a history of all its subjects. The impracticability of such a history, like a full-scale map of the world, mocks human effort — a compromise will have to do.
Nineteen million case-histories of victims of the Violent Unknown Event - VUE for short - are catalogued in the latest edition of the Event's Standard Directory. A random selection procedure picked out that block of 92 surnames that begin with the letters FALL. A fortuitous choice, yielding a cross-section of people with very varied biographies, helping to illuminate the VUE if not explain it.
The 92 biographies are laid out end to end in the alphabetical order in which they appear in the Directory, and are presented with alt the visual, literary, musical and aural material that is currently available. However, the preparation of biographies of living persons being a sensitive area, some legal embargoes and indirect censorships have been forced upon the filmmaker.
Whenever possible the mode of cinematic presentation is tailored to fit the character, experiences or salient features of each successive individual - The Falls fully acknowledges the subjectivity of the history-maker. The Falls is presented in 92 languages - one version for each of the 92 VUE languages. The version presented here is the most recent English-language version."