How do you follow up a masterpiece like Under the Skin? By giving BBC Two viewers five minutes of unexpected hell. The visionary director on how a Trump hunting trip inspired his mystery short
The Americas with Simon Reeve is an amiable travelogue in which a dishy documentarian gads about the US. This Sunday night he was in California, examining giant redwoods and Beyoncs mansion. At 10pm, the credits rolled and, abruptly, BBC Two plunged us into hell.
For five minutes before the start of Live at the Apollo, the channel screened a new short film in which a masked mob hang a man in a forest. He plunges for what feels an eternity (actually 86 seconds) down a well from the wooden gibbet, before the rope stops spooling and the man miraculously alive slowly starts to haul his way towards the light. It was broadcast without introduction or credits. There was no clue as to who was responsible.
In fact, The Fall is the latest film by Jonathan Glazer, the British director behind gangster comedy Sexy Beast, chilly Nicole Kidman reincarnation drama Birth and Under the Skin, in which Scarlett Johanssons erotic alien feeds on Glaswegians. All three are brilliant; Under the Skin is a masterpiece, last month named by this paper as the fourth best film of the century so far.
The Fall, his first work since Under the Skin, feels entirely of a piece. Long, eerie takes, a score by Mica Levi (there is no dialogue), bright light shining through the pitch black, and everything freighted with exhilarating dread.
Glazer, now 54, wants to be reticent about the film, to let it speak for itself. I thought it would benefit most from being dropped unannounced, he says. I didnt want to frame it with any expectation. This is the only press hes doing, and hell only answer questions by email. Yet hes curiously fulsome, despite himself.
The Fall may be brief, but it turns out to have at least five heavyweight inspirations the most flippant of which is a snap of Eric and Donald Trump Jr on a big-game hunting jaunt. The day I saw a picture of the Trump sons grinning with a dead leopard, he says, was the day he came up with a shot of the mob posing for a selfie with their prey.