Post any thoughts and discussions whatsoever on this thread!!!
This movie takes place in three interweaving narratives that encompass the age of the Spanish conquistadors, the near-future period and a journey through deep space in an ecospheric starship.
The scientist: Research oncologist Tommy Creo (Hugh Jackman) attempts to reverse brain tumors in rhesus monkeys through animal testing. His work is motivated by his cancer-stricken wife Izzi (Rachel Weisz). When the tests fail on a monkey named Donovan, Tommy is inspired to break medical protocol and use an untested compound derived from a Guatemalan tree. At first, the drug fails to stop the tumor’s growth, but surprisingly rejuvenates Donovan, healing his wounds and improving his cognitive abilities.
At home, Izzi points out a golden nebula to Tommy, describing it as Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. She also shows Tommy a book she is writing, set in the age of conquistadors, titled The Fountain. When she goes to sleep, Tommy reads the book and falls asleep as well. When he wakes up, he finds that Izzi has gone to the museum. He meets her there, and she explains the creation myth of the Mayans. She suddenly collapses from a seizure and is rushed to the hospital. She tells Tommy, at her bedside, that she no longer fears death. Tommy does not accept this and returns to his lab, working harder to find a cure for Izzi’s brain tumor.
During a visit, Izzi goes into cardiac arrest, and Tommy is forced to leave the room. Tommy’s associate Dr. Lillian Guzetti (Ellen Burstyn) finds him in the hall and tells him that Donovan’s tumor is shrinking. Tommy rushes back into Izzi’s room with the news, only to find that his wife cannot be resuscitated. At Izzi’s funeral, Tommy tells Guzetti, “Death is a disease, it’s like any other. And there is a cure. A cure. And I will find it.”
The Conquistador: In 16th century Spain, Grand Inquisitor Silecio (Stephen McHattie) demonizes the Spanish Queen Isabella (Weisz) as a heretic. He slowly acquires territories as part of his plan to take Spain from her, killing her followers along the way. Tomas (Jackman), a conquistador in the service of Isabella, plots to assassinate Silecio, only to be stopped by a subordinate, Captain Ariel (Cliff Curtis), bearing an urgent message from the Queen. Returning to Isabella’s court, Tomas is given the mission of finding the Tree of Life. The tree’s location is revealed on a hidden map displayed by a Mayan dagger stolen by Father Avila (Mark Margolis), whose Franciscan order backs the Queen.
Tomas journeys to the New World with Avila and fellow conquistadors to find the tree. As the search drags on and the hardships of the quest multiply, the men mutiny; Tomas restores order by killing the ringleaders as Avila reveals that they have arrived at their destination. As Tomas approaches the pyramid atop which the tree grows, Mayan warriors attack the conquistadors. Tomas’s last two men are killed fleeing the battle. Tomas is spared by the warriors, who force him to climb the pyramid. When Tomas reaches the temple at the top, he is stabbed in the abdomen by a Mayan priest.
The Astronaut: The astronaut, Tom (Jackman), travels toward a golden nebula in an ecospheric spacecraft, which also houses a living tree. Tom meditates in padmasana and practices tai chi. Kept young by compounds he produces from the tree’s sap, Tom is haunted by visions of Izzi. He focuses on reaching the nebula, repeatedly assuring the tree that it will be reborn on arrival despite the amount of sap he has taken from it. Despite his assurance, the tree dies, leaving Tom to ponder the hundreds of years of travel that have been all to see Izzi again. Izzi haunts Tom in a vision and encourages him to finish writing her book, The Fountain. Tom faces his fear of death and accepts dying, allowing him to finally write the book’s ending.
Resolution: Instead of killing Tomas, a Mayan priest identifies Tomas as First Father, the deity who sacrificed himself to create the world. The Mayan priest in turn presents himself as a sacrifice, and Tomas hesitatingly slits his throat. Passing through a doorway, the conquistador finds the Tree of Life in a garden atop the pyramid. As he pierces it with the stolen Mayan dagger, its sap spills onto the ground, and a small plant instantly grows and blossoms where it fell. Taking this as a sign of rejuvenation, Tomas applies some sap to his abdominal wound, healing himself. He then greedily drinks the sap, stopping only when he begins to see Xibalba appear above him. His victory is cut short however, as he collapses in pain, leaves and flowers bursting from his body, burying him. The future Tom is then shown passing into the heart of the nebula, wearing a ring given to Tomas by the Queen of Spain, and entering Xibalba at peace with the thought of his imminent death. As Xibalba collapses and supernovas Tom’s body is scattered into the dead tree rejuvenating it. In the present day Tommy is seen planting a tree seed over Izzi’s grave doing his best to accept his wife’s death. -- Marx-Michael
Darren Aronofsky was hoping to petition “The Fountain” to be added to the Criterion Collection
Mr. Aronofsky is waiting to release a great deal of unused extras, including alternate cuts of the film. Additionally, the film is in need of a quality transfer for its groundbreaking visuals. ‘The Fountain’ would be the perfect first Criterion release for Darren Aronofsky, one of contemporary American cinema’s leading auteurs.
These are ideal circumstances for a Criterion release, and this passionate, thoughtful cinematic experience is the perfect fit for the Collection. Mr. Aronofsky has expressed great interest in creating such a release; please work with him to add ‘The Fountain’ to the Criterion Collection.
Brandon Bedaw’s Criterion Collection Cover of “The Fountain.”
The power of this film demonstrates the human’s emotional take on life and death. “Death is the road to awe.” simple as that, but difficult to understand. This is an incredible film, with great performances, amazing images, and powerful words that will capture your heart and soul. I have never been moved by such an amazing film, so much that it made me cry. This is film making at its best. Think of Citizen Kane’s emotional components, 2001: A Space Odyssey’s unique visual richness, and Au Revoir Les Enfant’s poignant narration of fictitious tale, and compact them altogether in one film, and you’ll receive this great, beautiful, one of the finest films of all time, in my opinion, “The Fountain.” -- Beneezy-———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
“This film is indeed poetry, and a beautiful testament to love and the cycle of life, and the impermanence of death.” — Jenn Brown Austin, TX
“THE FOUNTAIN’ is a life-affirming treatise on the eternity of love.” — Lark Withakay, USA
“No doubt a movie that will be talked about for years, and will probably be under-appreciated forever.” — Newmarketsun
I won’t pretend that The Fountain isn’t flawed. But it speaks to me.
One of my very favourite films. Unlike Blue K, for me it isn’t flawed. It is one of the most moving and profound films I have ever seen. Beautiful – emotionally, aesthetically and spiritually.
I slated this film a few months ago. But after a second viewing I definitely saw something in it I hadn’t seen the first time around. It’s a beautiful film. Although it is hard for me to take Hugh Jackman in any form.
Wait, the Fountain is being released Criterion???
There are a couple of other threads on this but at least the OP took some effort.
My thoughts from a previous discussion on the film:
The film isn’t speaking in a Western philosophical language, it’s Eastern through and through.
It’s been called a love poem to Death. It is about accepting life as a part of death, that they really are one thing. It is the lesson the Conquistador learns, the acceptance the Doctor is finally able to achieve, and the catharsis the Spaceman reaches—dissolving into the nothingness of the truth.
I find it beautiful for many, many reasons. I would have loved to see the big budget version (scrapped because Brad Pitt pulled out as financing stalled), but I love this version all the same.
I think a lot of the trouble some Western critics have with the film is that it’s not speaking in a language they’re used to so they find it difficult to penetrate.
The film is about dealing with and accepting death as a natural part of life. That pain and struggle is part of what it is to be human. When you can find peace with that, you can find peace with anything, and life—all of life—becomes beautiful.
The film could have just dealt with this in a straightforward narrative way, but it doesn’t, and therefore elevates itself into a great film.
1. Narrative: the present-day timeline—this allows the audience a way into the main narrative
2. Literary: the past timeline—this expands the narrative to a discussion about symbolism, the creative process, and a historical perspective that lends depth to the overall theme
3. Symbolic: the future timeline—this allows the film to become a work of art, to encapsulate the film in a simple sphere, the tree of life, and a sole human being, highly archetypal, but still dealing with the same things as the man in the main narrative. It also allows for the film’s most beautiful and transcendent imagery, and thereby seals its message to us.
What Cecil said.
Just simply breathtaking
Hugh Jackman Interview about “The Fountain” & Darren Aronofsky
Aronofsky Commentary: “…All the visuals were organic…I had to get away from CGI…”
Hopefully we see a full commentary in the future ^
I have yet to see this because I’ve been really turned off by Requiem and The Wrestler. I found both to have good scenes and very technically proficient, but I was severely disappointed in both. I’m going to keep up with this thread so I can get more excited about getting around to The Fountain.
The Wrestler is crap.
“I won’t pretend that The Fountain isn’t flawed. But it speaks to me.”
I completely agree.
And I really dig the “Death is the Road to Awe” music video on YouTube. Hands down, my favorite song on the soundtrack.
One of my favorite movies. Clint Mansell’s score is amazing. I would love to see this on Criterion Blu-Ray! I have the regular WB DVD release of this and the long behind-the-scenes extra on there is great, but if Aronofsky has more to offer I would love to see it!
PS, bravo to the creator of the fake Criterion cover!
Yeah gotta agree, Death is the Road to Awe is one of the best film score of the decade.,and don’t forget that last music in the ending credit ( i forgot the name ), so simply beautiful and sad at the same time.
I love The Fountain. I didn’t know much about it when i’d first seen it, I was only recommended it by a couple people. From the beginning temple scene to the end I was sucked in, has a really unique feeling.
@Josh Ryan: If this had been released as it had initially intended in the big budget form as you say you would have liked to have seen, it would have had nothing of the same effect. People can say what they like about Hugh Jackman, but he is outstanding in his performances. Also, the reason the film turned out so different, appealing, and touching, was because of the fact it was scaled down to its core. Aronofsky stated in several interviews that with the budget halved he wanted to bring it down to the essence of what he wants to say.
Beneezy, well done with the forum, I especially appreciate your undying efforts in presentation!
General question, how many have read the graphic novel?
I have read it. It sits happily on my shelf underneath the film. The artwork is beautiful.
To clarify—I would like to have seen that version, but the one that exists is one of my favorite films, and interacts with me on a very fundamental, spiritual level.
That’s it, I’m downloading this film.
I wrote a paper on this film last semester. I find it hard to find it enjoyable anymore.
Josh, I understand, I was just checking!
Robley, considering how long it took to make this film, and how cheap it is online, buy it!
Matt, I wrote a dissertation on Aronofsky, handed it in on Wednesday, and have since watched The Wrestler and Fountain again and still love them. Learn to compartmentalise study and private watching, they’re too good to not enjoy again!
I am a man of many debts. Not an option.
I also don’t blind buy. If I end up loving it then I will probably add it to my way too long list of DVDs to buy.
My cat was dying when I saw this, and I cried for at least an hour of this movie. I wouldn’t call it lifechanging, but this movie can pull on your strings.
Some random toughs:
Somewhere else I wrote about this film: it´s not about the storyline perse, it´s a film designed to affect other sensibilities in our brains. In that regard, it´s image articulation is related to 2001: A Space Odissey, but also is fond of the philosophical explorations tipycal of Tarkovskys films, like Solaris and Stalker. It´s a spell thrusted through image and music, not through words or even allegory (even if it has it´s fair share of it).
In some interview while promoting the film, Aronofsky said that Thomas is, to a certain extent, the infamous Major Tom from David Bowie´s songs Space Oddity and Ashes to Ashes. (At some point Bowie was in talks for composing a song, sad it didn´t came trough). I loved that intertextuality, giving some clousure to the astronaut whose adventures are more emotional than physical.
Hands down, it´s the best soundtrack of the past decade. The only soundtrack so beautifull and powerfull as this that I can think of is Morricone´s “The Mission” (best soundtrack ever in my book).
To me it´s simply incredible how critics at the time dismissed the film (most notouriously Roger Ebert himself). To be put off by this piece of esoteric filmaking it´s telling on those who go to the cinema with very rational and prejuiced notions of what film is supossed to be. Shame on them, as the Fountain proves, film can be much, much more. In my experience, somebody who dismisses this film is somebody who will, sooner or later, prove not to be worth of having a covensation with.
Also, this is the first film in wich Aronofsky finds some kind of redemption to his characters always drown in pain. This worked very well in the Westler, too.
The graphic novel becomes complementary reading, tough is a fairly good read in it´s own.
I just really like this film.
I also should add I have certain curiosity trough the new Terrence Malick film (Malick being on of my favorite directors) that seems to have a similar theme like this one. It even has Brad Pitt starring it.