The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky, 2006)

“There’s no hope for us here, there is only death”

Introduction

This is a tough film. Sarah was bought this film as a present due to the fact that (a) Hugh Jackman was in the film and (b) it looked like there was muchos muscle-shots of Jackman for her to have a gander at. Personally, I was not too fussed about this, except maybe a slight interest in seeing a Darren Aronofsky following watching The Wrestler – a film I liked but didn’t obsess about. But, with Black Swan garnering alot of positvity from both Venice and Toronto – and with, already, tickets sold out at the screenings in two-out-of-the-four screenings at London Film Festival (before even us BFI Members can purchase them!), it seems now is an appropriate time to place up a small analysis of this film. Though I strongly suggest you watch the film more than once to truly ‘get’ it, it is unfortunate for me to admit that I have only seen the film once. And don’t intend to watch it again in the near future.

How Do You Cope with Death?

This is a fantasy story focussed on death. The is a futuristic sci-fi story focussed on death. This is a drama focussed on death. And Mourning. Constantly questioning how are you supposed to cope with death? The three desriptions are appropriate through the three different strands that interweave and confuse throughout the film. In the one sequence, Jackman is in a bubble alongside the tree of life – eating pieces of bark to stay alive – the bubble floats through space looking like it is ascending into space and reaching heaven. Then we have the lives of Izzi (Weisz) and Tommy (Jackman) in a semi-modern day context. Izzi is diagnosed with cancer and Tommy needs to support her through her final days/months/years – Tommy is a scientist himself and is desperate to search for a cure, even obsessing over it defining “death” as “a disease”. Parrallel to this again, we learn that Izzy is writing a book – about death – whereby a a Spanish soldier seeks the tree of life. Now, bear in mind – the man in the bubble is Hugh Jackman, “Tommy” is Hugh Jackman and the Spanish soldier is Hugh Jackman… thus the confusion sets in.

The Choice of Life

On the first viewing, it is clear that the film has multiple meanings. All the films get intreverted and fall unto themselves – so as ‘Izzi’ is writing a story that we see, the end further complicates matters as we see each story reversing and finishing throughout time. As Tommy revisits a moment in his life whereby he put his work before Izzy – but instead choosing to be with Izzy, rather than focus on his work. The Spanish soldier, eats a piece of bark from the tree of life and then vomits flowers, becoming one with nature – I guess living life forever within nature (something that death, to some extent is too). The pain of memory is further explored – how can someone mourn the loss of someone they don’t believe should have passed?

It is our actions that dictate our perspectives and feelings and Tommy’s ring, which he loses early on, symbolises this. His obsession over finding a cure is not what helps Izzy  -she simply needs him to be close to her – to hold her as she passes on. Unlike the Spanish soldier – he will only kill himself in trying to ‘disprove’ death. The spirtual and non-tangible love is what will keep you alive – and, in the bubble, he is purely obsessed with love – desperately wanting her back. Actions create feelings – and your actions in someones life is what needs to be prioritised – you can’t take anything from this world with you when you pass on, but you can take your emotions.

This is only my first exploration of the film and, as it stands, it is sad to say that The Fountain is my most disliked Blu-Ray film. I don’t know how I will revisit it – and in what state of mind I will be in – I just pray that I watch it the next time following an inspiring conversation, comment or post that I partake in convincing me of the many merits of the films. Talking of merits, Clint Mansells score is outstanding.

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5 comments

  1. When I first watched this I was blown away. I was disappointed though, because I feel a film with so much work put into it could have stepped up a notch in terms of screenwriting.

  2. @Fitz – its so strange, because the HUGE divide which people have for this film is immense. I really didn't like it… but imagine I should watch it again. Did you love it the first time you watched it?

    @Travis – I ultimately will have real difficulty in watching it again. And yes, the screenwriting IS factor.

  3. You are right that this is a difficult movie, but it may eventually hold up as an important one. I've watched it three times and feel that the core is still the modern day scenes particularly when Jackman is interacting with Ellen Burstyn who truly provides the counter balance between the mysticism of Izzie and the pure science of Tommy.

    From a background point, reading what Jackman needed to accomplish to pull off the futuristic yoga positions and floating/flying sequences adds a great deal to appreciating the actual business of making a film.

  4. Jamie!

    Time will tell… I can see its ambition so maybe, as we all develop a higher understanding of cinema the film will become more appreciated. I think the filmmaking behind the film can foetn help a film … but sometimes it changes your perception for the worse.

    Whatever the case may be, I think the effort jackman went to shows a deep understanding of character so I am sure this is something that you can appreciate more and more in time.

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