Thursday, 01 October 2020
The Fountain
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 05 December 2006 19:57

I support the theory that film and art go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other, and if you’re going to be picky I guess you could say that all films are art regardless of how bad or good they are. But there is a fine line between making an artsy film and losing a film to the art. If you go too far in one direction you risk losing the empathy of the audience. One of my most anticipated films of the year, The Fountain, comes close to crossing this line but manages to find a balance.

The Fountain is about Man’s struggle with death and our constant attempts to escape it. Actually, it is secretly addressing the bigger picture while focusing on one man’s struggle with death and his personal efforts to thwart it over three different lifetimes. Hugh Jackman plays Tommy, a research scientist desperate to cure the tumor in his wife’s brain. Izzi (Rachel Weisz) is desperate to find her own source of immortality by writing a book before she dies. Her book just happens to be about folklore and the afterlife, and provides a bridge between the past, present and future.

In the 16th century, Tomas, a Spanish conquistador is sent on a quest by Queen Isabella to find the Tree of Life at the heart of a Mayan jungle. In the 26th century he is Tom, a space traveler who must protect a dying tree until they reach their mysterious destination. On his journey through space in a bubble, he is haunted by the memories of his past lives. In all three time periods the protagonist experiences the same struggles and blind ambitions. We flow in and out of all the stories as they weave together.

If it sounds strange it is. Strange, but also extremely beautiful. My advice for viewers would be not to over think it, but to let it wash over you. The time for thinking will come afterwards, and last for days. I was glad that I saw this movie by myself, because I didn’t have to wonder what the person beside me was thinking. In fact it had an almost meditative effect on me and I walked out of the theatre feeling oddly peaceful. I think that having to talk about it right away would have changed how I felt about the film.

The visuals in this movie are spectacular, rich with detail and symbolism. Trees and tree shapes run through each time period and images of roots or branches can be found in everything from the fabric of a dress to a hospital room. Although it is science fiction, director Darren Aronofsky’s vision can definitely be described as more 2001: A Space Odyssey than The Matrix.

I have two major complaints about this movie. The first is simply that the picture was too dark during much of the film. At times I could barely make out what was on the screen; but this was probably a problem with the theatre rather than the film. My second complaint is that the musical score was distracting. Even during moments of quiet conversation, the soundtrack blares away. Music should set the tone for a scene, not overpower it.

The Fountain is an ambitious movie, and so unlike anything released lately that I’m surprised and glad it even got made. For anyone who appreciates a thought provoking and visual treat it is worth seeing. I give The Fountain 7 out of 10 stars.