At the end of October, a shocking short film aired on BBC Two with no introduction and no credits. The short depicted a mob of masked people pursuing a man through a forest and then hanging him, accompanied by eerie music rather than any dialogue.
As it turns out, the short is the latest work from director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Under the Skin), and it’s finally available to watch online courtesy of BBC Films and A24.
Titled The Fall, the short was inspired by a poem of Bertolt Brecht’s, the works of Fransisco Goya, and a picture of Eric and Donald Trump Jr. posing with a dead animal on a hunting trip. Those inspirations, Glazer said in an interview with Rolling Stone, “tied into this sense I had where we’re living in times when reason is under attack and aggressive ideas seem to be in the ascendancy.” The masks the figures all wear, meanwhile, stand in for the anonymity afforded to people through online communication and disinformation. “I thought the mask was a way of expressing how comfortable we can be when we’re anonymous. How comfortable, and how awful.”
As jarring and upsetting as the film is, however, it’s also ultimately not totally nihilistic about the state of the world. Though the man’s fall seems endless, the film’s final shot reveals signs of hope.
“Someone asked me recently if we’re any closer to hell these days. The only answer I could come up with was, ‘We’re no closer to hell than we are to heaven,’” Glazer said. “The film is really about that as well. It’s up to us which direction we go. It’s within our power. It’s our choice as to how we want to live and how we want to be represented.”