‘Anatomy of a Fall’ follows the trial of Sandra Voyter, who claims innocence in the death of her husband, Samuel. According to her, her husband fell from their house’s attic window, and it was either an accident or a wilful action on her husband’s part. The prosecution, however, wants to prove that she is behind the murder, and to get to the bottom of the truth, they dig out everything about her and Samuel’s marriage. As their background becomes important, the setting and timing of the story also become crucial to the way things turn out eventually. SPOILERS AHEAD
Anatomy of a Fall Takes Place in the French Alps
Most of the action in ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ takes place at Sandra and Samuel’s house. It is located at an isolated mountaintop near the city of Grenoble, but far enough that they don’t have anyone in their immediate vicinity. It is this isolation that narrows down the suspects to Sandra because, considering their surroundings, no one else could have been around long enough to kill Samuel and then leave without anyone seeing them.
Later, as the threads of their marriage start to come out, it is revealed that Sandra never wanted to come to France. She wasn’t even French and could only get by in the language. She was born and brought up in Germany, which she left when she moved to London, where she met Samuel and married him. The couple lived there for a while until their son, Daniel, met with an accident that made him visually impaired, following which, mostly due to their financial troubles, Samuel decided they move back to his hometown and live in France.
The move leads to more tension between Samuel and Sandra as he starts to feel that he is being burdened with more responsibilities. As Sandra’s career as a novelist takes flight, Samuel feels held back, partly because he cannot finish the novel he started while his wife took a part of his best work and did something better with it herself. This crack in their marriage widens with time and comes to a breaking point when Samuel falls to his death from the attic, which he’d been repairing for quite a while now.
Apart from the house, the courtroom is another prominent location in the movie. The trial takes place in the Grenoble courthouse, and this is where Sandra has to answer all the questions, no matter how uncomfortable, about herself, her husband, and their marriage. The setting of the courthouse makes things more tense as the audience becomes the jury, and it falls on them to decide whether or not Sandra is guilty of the crime.
The Time Period of Anatomy of a Fall
The events in ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ take place over the course of about two years. When Samuel dies, the investigation soon turns towards Sandra, who, at first, seems too devastated to understand what’s happening. However, her lawyer, Vincent, makes it clear early on that it doesn’t matter to him whether she did it or not. The only thing that matters is how they can prove that she didn’t.
It takes about a year for the trial to come to the point where all the evidence has been collected and all the witnesses are ready to testify. Over the next few weeks, Sandra and Daniel go through a rollercoaster of emotions as she tries to prove her innocence while her son becomes increasingly unsure of it. The time period also gives Daniel time to think about his memories and how he may have misremembered some things or not interpreted certain things in the right light, especially after his father’s death.
These two years take a toll on Sandra and Daniel, especially as the case catches the media’s attention, due to which Daniel decides to sit in every proceeding of the trial, even though the judge finds it inappropriate for him. He mentions that he’d still be able to get everything unfiltered and, even a bit exaggerated, from the media, which is why there is no point in keeping him out of court. In the end, it is all his time in court that influences his own perception of his mother and decides the outcome.