The Fountain: A Masterpiece of 2006
by Alex Billington
November 22, 2006
The Fountain is a rare film that is impossible to explain yet is still a masterpiece of filmmaking. Director and writer Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) put every last bit of energy he had into creating one of the most revolutionary, beautiful, and incredible masterpieces of filmmaking from this year. He has achieved perfection on nearly every level, with career-defining performances from amazing actors, incredible visuals created on a low budget, and stunning, eye-opening storytelling that no other director could pull off.
The Fountain is a simple love story that spans three eras: the 1500s in Spain, the present day, and the future. Hugh Jackman plays Thomas, a conquistador loyal to Spain in the 1500s who embarks on a journey to find the tree of life; Tom Creo, a doctor in the present searching for a cure to cancer; and Tommy, a futuristic astronaut traveling through the heavens. Rachel Weisz plays Isabel, the Queen of Spain in the 1500s and Izzi Creo, Tom's wife who is becoming increasingly sick due to a tumor. There are three very distinct and separate moods associated with the different times, each of which is subtly and fastidiously illustrated. Aronofsky connects these three time frames and tells their stories individually with finesse.
Before my screening began, Aronofsky came out to give a quick introduction. He stated that some others have said that The Fountain is an experience, not just a movie - and it truly is. You go into The Fountain and experience it; you don't just watch it. The film is fulfilling, enveloping, and exciting, and stays very tightly progressive at an appropriate 96 minutes. It's very intimate, very serene, and very personal. Aronofsky and his Director of Photography Matthew Libatique often use facial close-ups to capture the emotion and emphasize the love in Izzi and Tom's relationship. The whole film builds as an experience through time to the end, both in its running time and in its 1000-year-spanning storyline.
Aronofsky's meticulous attention to detail in every scene, from the golden yellow color found in every light to the star fields created by objects in every era, is a phenomenal achievement that he alone has mastered. Every little detail, from a breath on the neck to markings on a dagger, can mean the world. The Fountain introduces a surreal message and interpretation on life and love and will unfortunately not appeal to every audience. That open interpretation is what will draw some to fall in love with the film and some to hate it. However, you must sit and soak in the experience all the way through to the last piano melodies at the end of the star-filled credits in order to get a more vast and fulfilling understand of life that extends beyond our own time.
The depth of Jackman's characters and his portrayal of each is a very rich and fascinating performance that has not been matched by nearly any other male actor this entire year. I would say he's worthy of awards recognition, but the subject matter is so obscure that it's unfortunately unlikely. The authentic and unyielding nature of nearly every actor, including the lovely Rachel Weisz, was another crowning success that built upon the excellence of The Fountain.
The Fountain is a beautiful experience that Aronofsky and his brilliance has created with the inimitable Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. There is perfection in the visual, storytelling, acting, and musical elements, and all of them together make up this masterpiece. There are moments that just flow perfectly; I was often left with my mouth wide open in awe caught up in the moment. For as much praise as I can give it, The Fountain is not meant for everyone. I hope others out there can experience Aronofsky's creation and sit and enjoy in awe as well.