Jonathan Glazer returns with new short film The Fall

The great filmmaker behind Sexy Beast and Under the Skin made a surprise return when his nightmarish new short popped up on TV before Live at the Apollo

Feature by Jamie Dunn | 28 Oct 2019
  • The Fall

Sunday evening programming on TV can be cloyingly cosy – no one wants to get too riled up before the working week begins, we suppose. BBC Two had something different in mind last night when it sneaked The Fall, a nightmarish seven-minute short from Jonathan Glazer, onto the schedule. Anyone tuning in early for a 'fun' night in with Live at the Apollo was in for a surprise.

The film opens on a dark forest, where a mob of masked figures have chased a man who’s now cowering up a tree. They proceed to shake him down like he’s a coconut. The inspiration for this terrifying image of mob mentality, cruelty and violence? The First Family.

Speaking to the Guardian, Glazer said that “the day I saw a picture of the Trump sons grinning with a dead leopard” was his chief inspiration. He adds that the DNA of German playwright Bertolt Brecht and Spanish painter Francisco Goya were also in The Fall’s mix.

Accentuating Glazer's nightmarish images is another uncanny score from Mica Levi, who composed the music for Glazer’s Under the Skin as well as Jackie and Colombian war film Monos, which is currently in theatres.

Like Terence Davis, Leos Carax and Lynne Ramsay, Glazer is one of those wonderful filmmakers who takes an age between projects. He made his directorial debut in 2000 with Sexy Beast and since then he’s only completed two features: 2004’s Birth and 2013’s Under the Skin. The Fall’s existence has come as a complete surprise to most people. It’s a delightful one though. “I thought it would benefit most from being dropped unannounced,” Glazer told the Guardian. “I didn’t want to frame it with any expectation.”

After the thugs get hold of their victim, they beat him, take some selfies and throw him down a well with a noose around his neck. Glazer explains that his vision of this lynch-mob speaks to the current world around us. “I think fear is ever-present. And that drives people to irrational behaviour. A mob encourages an abdication of personal responsibility. The rise of National Socialism in Germany for instance was like a fever that took hold of people. We can see that happening again.”

Glazer clearly has National Socialism on his mind. His next project will be a second world war drama based on The Zone of Interest, Martin Amis's 2014 novel grappling with the horrors of the Holocaust. That film is due to start shooting next year. Until then, we have The Fall.

Watch The Fall on BBC iPlayer now; the film screens on BBC Two on 30 Oct and 1 Nov