Netflix’s Taiwanese film ‘The Falls’ centers around Pin-Wen, whose mental health deteriorates during the Covid-19 pandemic. Xiao Jing, Pin-Wen’s daughter, starts to take care of her mother and the responsibilities of the family that includes just the two of them. Directed by Chung Mong-hong, the film progresses through the nuances of the mother-daughter relationship and Pin-Wen’s struggles to cope with her mental condition. The highly potent emotional drama succeeds impeccably to move the viewers with its true-to-life narrative and characterizations. Inspired by the sense of reality the film displays, we have taken a detailed look at the film’s origins. Let us share our findings!
Is The Falls a True Story?
‘The Falls’ is partially based on a true story. Chung Mong-hong, director and co-writer of the film, was inspired by a real-life account of one of his friends to make the film. “Her [Chung’s friend’s] daughter had been struggling with mental illness for a long time, and she had been accompanying her and caring for her for many years. And then the situation got better after her daughter started to go to college. But just three weeks prior, her daughter and a friend went hiking in the countryside by a large river, and a dam happened to release while they were there, and they were both swept away, their lives lost,” he said to THR in September 2021.
The account affected Chung significantly and stayed in his mind. The experience of the mother and the late daughter translated into a screenplay when Chung encountered a real-life image on his own. “When I was walking around in [my] community, I noticed this house covered with a blue tarp like a monster. It looked like the house was covered in a huge face mask, and I started to imagine that people living inside would be trapped and suffocated under the face mask. I started to envision: What if this mother and daughter, who lived inside this building, couldn’t escape this space ever?” he said to Variety.
Chung incorporated his friend’s real-life account into the lives of two fictional characters, Pin-Wen and her daughter Xiao Jing, who lives in an apartment covered with a blue tarp. Along with his friend’s account, Chung added several fictional details to conceive the narrative and characters. He also reversed the roles midway through his writing process. “In the first draft, actually, it was the daughter that was ill. At that time, I thought there were so many stories talking about parents taking care of their kids, and that kind of story isn’t really attractive to me,” he added to Variety.
The filmmaker also placed the narrative during the Covid-19 pandemic. The setting of the pandemic allowed him to explore the distance that creeps into human beings and relationships subtly. The film also depicts the pandemic’s horrifying impact on the economy and its repercussions on the livelihoods of middle-class families. The backdrop of the pandemic also allowed Chung to portray the startling mental health challenges associated with Covid-19.
Even though the real-life account that inspired Chung plays a pivotal role in the film’s narrative, ‘The Falls’ is not entirely based on a true story. The film is an exemplary blend of reality and fiction with its own independent essence and impact.
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