‘The Fountain’ floods theaters

By Nicoletta Sabella
December 8, 2006

Warner Bros. Pictures

The riveting performances of Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz pulled “The Fountain” into one of the most thought provoking, symbolic movies of the year. The somewhat underrated film is open to interpretation by each viewer. However, they can all agree that it incorporates themes of action, romance, drama and even some science-fiction into a philosophical and visual work of art.

Director Darren Aronofsky, also director of “Requiem for a Dream” and “Pi,” takes the storylines from three different time periods and splices them together to make one main story focused on one man’s struggle to accept morality. At this moment, it is hard to tell if the stories are the same or three separate stories.

The first tale is of a queen and her quest to save her country with the help of a warrior. The second is a story taken in present time about a man who is trying to find a cure for his wife’s cancer. Lastly, stopped in time and stuck in a bubble in space, a man and his growing tree look for ultimate meaning in a nebula in space.

Originally, Aronofsky casted Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett to play the main characters with a $75 million budget. Instead the film was shut down and restarted with a budget of $35 million and a different cast. Hugh Jackman plays Tom Creo or Tomas, the hopeless husband from one aspect or the fighting warrior in another, both on the search for the fountain, symbolic for the fountain of youth or cure. Rachel Weisz (real-life girlfriend of Aronofsky) plays Izzi Creo, who is the sick wife searching for an ending to her novel coincidentally titled “The Fountain,” she also plays Isabel, the endangered queen trying to save Spain.

Many scenes are vivid with flashbacks and interweaving images. Jackman cut off all of his hair and shaved his beard to play the man in the bubble in the yellow radiating bursting nebula. He is there with his life-like tree, representative of his dying wife. Ghost-like images of his wife appear and persuade him into his past or the present-day life. There he retraces his steps to find meaning and a solution to death.

The film presents the audience with issues that are universal. Offering some undertones of religious and cultural interpretation (Mayan, Christian, and Buddhist) the film leaves audiences with conversation pieces. The present-day story is the most emotional, seeing as it deals with strong love bonds and the potential loss of them through the unfathomable ideas of death.

With a brilliant score and unmatchable experiment with lighting and graphics, “The Fountain” is somewhat similar to the style of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and with it’s birth-death tone, it is comparable to “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Quite different from what the trailer presented, “The Fountain” is a complex and intelligent film on the contemplation of death and the desperate measures taken to salvage life, not about a woman who lives forever. With only a $3 million gross for opening weekend, the film is highly underestimated.

Although hard to understand at the beginning, the pieces make slight contact in the middle only to scatter in confusion at the end. “The Fountain” leaves a feeling of incompleteness while at the same time a feeling of being satisfied by its mystery.

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Nicoletta Sabella

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