"Biography number one introduces six of the Falls' themes of subject, style and reference.
1) A hyper-sensitive attitude to the protection of birds that even extends to their corpses.
2) Physical malfunction for the VUE victim - often bizarre and often relevant to some arrested metamorphosis of man into bird.
3) Language conversion. There are ninety-two new and officially recognised VUE languages.
4) The division of the orthodox two sexual roles into four.
5) The suggestion that the VUE has a fixed geographical epi-centre on the Lleyn Peninsula of North Wales.
6) The introduction of the Theory of the Responsibility of Birds and a suggestion of its opposing attitude centred in FOX, the Society For Ornithological Extermination.
Also introduced is the strong visual reference of water and the 'pathetic' musical theme that will insinuate itself in many guises throughout the ninety-two biographies and become built into the ninety-two musical pieces that introduce the biographies.
This first biography also contains the first and only 'real' image of a bird - a seagull and a dead one - and in the person of Orchard Falla, whose first name foreshadows the Boulder Orchard, the epi-centre of epi-centres on the Lleyn Peninsula, hints that the film as a whole, like Falla, might be looking in the wrong direction entirely in its concern to investigate the Violent Unknown Event." - Peter Greenaway, The New Social Function of Cinema, BFI, 1981
Orchard Falla is a Capistan-speaking young male man. He suffers from perpetually aching teeth, gross anaemia and a marrow deficiency. For his age and his condition he is heavy. There is no known photograph of him. Orchard lives outside Arklow, County Wicklow, and earns a living working in an iron-monger's that makes most of its profit selling chicken-wire. It is not recorded what Orchard thinks of the Violent Unknown Event, and he is very non-committal about any opinion concerning the theory of the Responsibility of Birds, though in an unguarded moment he has described his enemy as the FOX. This might be no more enigmatic than a reference to his profession as a seller of chicken-wire.
At least once every twenty-four hours, Orchard finds time to drive five miles to the coast, ostensibly to collect the skulls of seabirds. Indeed, he often returns with one hidden in the toe of one of a pair of perished waders that he keeps in the back of his car. The concealment is a precaution in case he is challenged. His finds are usually limited to the upper-jaw of an oystercatcher, or perhaps the head of a herring gull which has to be sliced from the rest of its tar-covered body with a penknife given to him by his employer last Bird-Fall Day. However, Orchard, more often than not, spends his time at the beach, day or night, standing staring at the sea with both hands clamped tightly to his lower jaw in the unlikely hope of squeezing away the toothache. In such a position he stares fixedly to the southeast. If he had turned his gaze forty-five degrees, and stared out due east, he might have faced the horizon that hid the Lleyn Peninsula of North Wales, which is what he wanted to stare at. As it was, he misplaced his time, his energy and his anxiety by staring at the horizon that hid the coast of Pembrokeshire which was much too far to the south.
The Falls Biographies
Constance Ortuist Fallaburr
Appis (Arris) Fallabus
Ipson & Pulat Fallari
Bird Gaspara Fallicutt
Sallis Pino Fallpinio
Erhaus Bewler Falluper