It’s all too rare that a movie clings to you in such a way that demands further examination than simply watching the film. Sometimes a film will contain a greater purpose than the one presented at its surface. In order to see a film like this for all that it has to offer you must pick away the crust and dig deeper into its core. I love films like this; ones that demand absolute attention and even then it doesn’t give away all of its secrets. A story like the one that makes up The Fountain is one that must be viewed repeatedly and thought about and researched to fully make sense and even then I’m not so sure all answers can be found. Some of the actions the characters take are so beyond the comprehension of rationality that the movie may be deemed incoherent and just plain awful. A major theme (among many) in this story is love. It’s often said that love makes a person do crazy things. Things otherwise a person in their right mind would never do. The more bizarre moments that these particular characters take us through are mostly fueled by love and so a lack of cohesion is understandable. It makes sense in its own love fueled delusion of grandeur.
Beyond the intense bond connecting the two main characters and the unwillingness to let go is a kind of segue into the theme of eternal life. If Hugh Jackman’s character can discover an actual means of extended life then maybe he can reunite with his true love. An aspect that I’m truly drawn to is the idea that all of their ambitions may be possible just perhaps not in the way they originally intended. Eternal life is sought after and bled over and when a source of everlastingness may have actually been found, it’s discovered in a form far from what they had ever imagined. These characters (particularly Jackman) begin and endure the journeys powered by their obsessions and by the end their ideas of what will and could be are not always exactly the same; in fact they’re down right abstract in the limited understanding of what they believed possible.
I love the nonlinear storytelling that makes up The Fountain. Scenes are melded together blending in such a way that makes its audience question what is real and what is imagined by its characters. Taking place over thousands of years, each incarnation of these two characters are separated by unfathomable amounts of time and yet their goals are one in the same. These goals are to protect life, to protect love, and to accept death as simply the next part in a never ending journey. When one character is accepting of death and no longer fears it, a tragic sort of chasm begins to form between these two inseparable people. The wife can see the beauty and warmth that death contains and the husband sees death as a blackness or disease that must be eradicated. In order for both to truly be at peace they must accept death as a part of life and not so much the end of it.
I spoke of their obsessions as a sort of propellant toward their goals but obsession can be a two sided coin. On one side the yearning the husband has to discover a cure for brain cancer is commendable but on the other side there is no feasible way to discover a cure in time to save his ill-fated wife. So despite his valiant effort to save her he is neglecting her and what limited time he has left to spend with her. It is a tragedy all its own. His desire to save her has simultaneously pushed her away to, in a way, die alone. He might be there physically but his mind is not. She is accepting of what is to come and he must find this same peace but his transcendence will not be ascertained quite as easily as it was for her.
I will place this film alongside films like Under the Skin, Enemy, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Their beginnings middles and ends are meant to be interpreted and mulled over without any absolute conclusions. Their underlying meanings of life from starting it to finishing it to enduring it; they leave the overall meanings a mystery to be debated over and discussed endlessly. With The Fountain, imagery and seamless scene transitions along with tremendous performances by the cast carry a story of love across eons to an obscure but ultimate idea of life and death. I’m not entirely sure everything I’ve typed I will agree with upon further viewings and the idea that my understanding of this film may change really excites me. I highly recommend watching this extravagantly beautiful story of love and the power it holds over us. The Fountain is a truly fantastic experience that reminds us of the splendor of storytelling that film is and can be.
Rated PG-13 For: some intense sequences of violent action, some sensuality and language
Runtime: 96 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Mark Margolis
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 4.5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
Also, here’s a theory/explanation of the plot from /Film’s David Chen.
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