PSA: The Fountain (2006), or The Beauty of Love and Heartache

3 01 2009
To Live Forever...

To Live Forever...

Hello, faithful readers (all five of you). Today is the first PSA! My own personal public service announcement, alerting you of the finest and the fucking-awfulest. Today I have re-watched a movie I have seen previously based on if it ranks very high or very low on my scale. You people gotta know these things. But first, I feel like I have to restate Cinematronica’s mission. While I joke around quite a bit about how I just wanna watch movies all day and this is all just an excuse to vent, there is something more to this. This is a chance for people, including me, to reconnect with film, to travel to the best and the worst places in motion picture history and understand the art form better. Through my own unique vision, you can decide to watch these movies in your unique vision, and share the experience with others. You haven’t seen any of these movies, you say? Well, neither have I, for the most part. This is a cinematic odyssey. There’s no rhyme or reason to what you or I choose to watch in real life, so these movies are all chosen at random, despite their age or quality. Cinematronica is an attempt to get people excited about motion pictures again, by going to every corner of the film world and sampling all the variety that I never knew existed. And if you come along with me this year, I’ll try my damnedest to steer you in the right direction, whatever your taste may be.

All right, enough delusions of grandeur. On to the movie!

Darren Aronofsky’s magnum opus TheĀ  Fountain came and went in theaters in the fall of 2006 without much fanfare. It was a story about passion, romance, loss, grief, and the quest for eternal life. Sounds interesting, right? Well, not interesting enough to keep it in theaters in my city for much longer than two weeks. The critics gave it passing reviews, calling it a bold attempt by a director who might not have been prepared for such an undertaking. The general populace of moviegoers (the dreaded GPM) ranted and raved about how they “didn’t get it”, how it was “too confusing”. The combination of these two vitriolic factors led to an early death in theaters and a quiet, bare-bones DVD release. It was all quite sad. But what about the movie? Was it any good? Was it really too difficult to understand? Ladies and gentleman, I have come to report to you that The Fountain is indeed a good movie. A very, very good movie.

The story revolves around Tommy and Izzi, Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz respectively. They are in love; the deepest, most splendorous kind. It is a timeless sort of love, in more ways than one. Because in the film, this couple is represented at the beginning, the middle, and the end of a thousand-year time span. It begins in 1500 C.E., with Spaniards scouring the Mayan Empire for Xibalba. Hugh Jackman here is Tomas, a conquistador retained by Queen Isabella, Rachel Weisz’s incarnation. Isabella has charged him with finding the Tree of Life, her only hope against the corrupt Inquisitor who will soon stage a coup upon the crown. We are then shot forward to 2500 C.E., where Hugh Jackman is a metaphysical astronaut, traveling through space to a golden nebula in a bubble which houses a dying Tree of Life, Rachel Weisz’s incarnation in the future. The astronaut believes that the tree may be reborn if they make it to the nebula in time. After that we are shot back to approximately present day, where Hugh Jackman is a doctor who is trying to find a way to cure malignant brain tumors like the one that his wife, Rachel Weisz’ incarnation, is suffering with. She is always dying, he is always trying to save her. It is a thousand years of battle with our own mortality, and it is magnificently handled.

Much has already been said about the story and how difficult it is to understand and follow, so I will not dwell on it, nor will I ruin it for you, but I will say that it should not be all that confusing as it is open to interpretation. Make what you will of it. I have a notion or two, and if you at least watch the movie the whole way through and linger on it a bit longer than it takes for you to pop it out of your DVD player, you’ll have a notion as well. Whatever you think it means, it is a wonderfully well-written screenplay by Mr. Aronofsky, and you will never see another film like it. And a note to other established critics from me: watch the final scene of this film again and tell me to my face that Darren Aronofsky is not experienced enough yet to take on a project like this.

The score is bar none the best score I have ever heard. Clint Mansell teamed up with the Kronos Quartet and Scottish post-rock group Mogwai came together and created the most emotional score imaginable. If Superman, Hal Jordan-era Green Lantern, and Captain Marvel came together to start an ass-kicking business, they would not even come close to the success of this composition. Every single track pulls at you, makes you yearn for love despite the limitations of life.

Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman give some of the best performances I have seen from big-name Hollywood stars in years. Rachel Weisz in particular is an enchantress. When she is Isabella and she looks at Tomas, calling him, “my conquistador”, you feel the smoldering passion in her prim and proper British voice. For what its worth, the supporting cast performs admirably, especially the always-feisty Ellen Burstyn, but they could have only cast two people in this movie and it would have been just as well. Your eyes and your heart are drawn to these two stars and their tragic roles.

So watch this movie! I highly recommend it for all ages, young and old. You will know what it means to love again, and understand all the sadness that comes with love. It is a catharsis for a desensitized world. I give this movie 91/2 floating space bubbles out of 10. I reserve the perfect ten as punishment for Warner Brothers for cutting the films budget in half, damaging what is otherwise a perfect movie, and then basically burying the movie when it did not perform financially as much as was anticipated. Good job, Warner Brothers!

Thanks for reading! Tomorrow I watch Iron Man! Until then!