I’ve watched this movie three times and each time it left a different impression on me. The Fountain is an ambitious blend of science fiction and mystery exploring some of the most important questions you can ask as a human. What is life, love, and death? And while this might sound a bit simplistic, once you start watching the movie, you’ll see that it’s effortlessly complex. Like you’re reading Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey. During my first viewing, I was enthralled with the visuals and the general questions the movie explores.
The second viewing was a bit more philosophical and I could appreciate the romantic angle much more. However, my third viewing was fucking harrowing. Mostly because the story features a terminally ill woman whose husband is trying to save her. During my first two viewings, I took this element of the story at face value, not thinking too much of it, This time I kept imagining myself in a similar situation and my emotions were just running rampant. And just to be clear, I am not in any kind of a similar situation.
Moreover, I think that this type of narrative can actually help someone in that situation find peace. But then again, that’s just an assumption. Moving on, despite being a veritable epic unfolding over three different time periods, The Fountain is a movie featuring a surprisingly short running time of just ninety minutes. This isn’t some three-hour meditation on the meaning of life but an approachable albeit esoteric exploration of that theme. I also shouldn’t forget to mention religion as they solved that whole immortality thing a long time ago.
Wham, bam and you’re in heaven right next to your loved ones, enjoying eternal existence. Nooooooot. Am I doing this right? The movie actually opens with a quote from Genesis, something which immediately put me off. I shall refrain from any further comments regarding this subject before I get too riled up. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz gave stunningly good, honest, and committed performances. Something that was necessary for a story of this magnitude. When it comes to the visuals I appreciate Aronofsky’s decision to avoid CGI.
He instead decides on using optical illusions. All the special effects you see in the movie The Fountain were created using microphotography and certain chemical reactions. This gives it a unique visual style and separates it from other movies. It surpasses style-over-substance argument and rises into a whole new realm. However, if you were a cynic, you might consider this movie as a pompous and overly ambitious project without any clear objectives. It fits perfectly with the superficially “deep” view of the world that edgy younger generations are currently exploring.
A mishmash of ultimately barren ideas still wrapped in that comforting tribal narrative. I suggest you use it as a visual medium helping you explore elusive and complex topics. Keep an open heart and, more importantly, an open mind, and it might actually surprise you. If, however, you’re looking for something a bit more straightforward, Mel Gibson’s epic Apocalypto is a great choice.
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writers: Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Cliff Curtis, Ethan Suplee, Sean Patrick Thomas
Fun Stuff: The Fountain was initially a movie starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett with a release date set for late 2002. However, after Pitt and Aronofsky couldn’t agree on certain things the project was put on a shelf. Ultimately, Aronofsky decides to make it with half of the initial budget and featuring two new leads.