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.
Reader Feedback - 27 Comments
I'm not suprised that so many pop entertainment critics have hated this so much, but I am suprised by some of the more reliable critic's reactions against the film. There's nothing like this out there, it's so goddamn good, and the audience is likely so small, but it's such an incredibly visceral experience I can't see anyone not being moved by it in some way. Good review.
Nick on Nov 26, 2006
The Fountain is a mystical visual mandala. The nonlinear sequence shows the storyand process of human beings’ issues of surrender to the waves of time/death/change and the Love which is behind and beyond all matter, always leading us forward into wholeness. By accepting and meeting death and facing and letting go ofour attachments to the physical appearances, we realize the eternal freedom, the eternal life-force, the eternal joy, inside and beyond the life/death pulsation. The film is replete with sacred images and traditions spanning space and time on earth. East(Yoga, Zen) and west(Catholic & Science) North (Odin’s tree and subtle goddess images) and South (Mayan Aztec warrior priests), old worlds and new worlds. You are right: we do not "watch' this movie- but in experiencing it we become aware of our own themes, and of the transpersonality of conciousness. And even if the viewer "hates" it, it has an alchemical effect- like the mandalas of Tibet- simply experiencing the mandala is transformative to the psyche/soul/spirit. That is the cool power of this movie- it doesn't matter whether you like it or not!
Name (required)Ilaria on Dec 1, 2006
I agree with your review, this was a fantastic movie. However, you are also right that not everyone will like it. And that's sad. Because those who don't, the ones who close their minds and say it doesn't make sense, they're really missing out.
Jared Cramer on Dec 20, 2006
I don't like this movie. It may be artistically very good but as a viewer, I got bored and almost fallen asleep. I won't recommend it to most people. Very few people will like this movie.
Glenn Tupaz on Feb 19, 2007
I love this movie, from start to end. There is so many interpetations to be made and so many thoughts to think about it. Sure its nice lightning and all but i dont really mind, the thought counts. for me this is the second eternal sunshine of the spotless mind movie.
eeee on Apr 22, 2007
Superb movie. Relates with the events in this life and the thought of death as a freedom rather than of fall and fear.
kcb on Apr 25, 2007
In this cruel and emotionless times, unfortunately there won't be much people who will be able to cross their limits and appreciate the true masterpiece that Darren and the whole team achieved!! The Fountain is an unforgettable journey through human nature . Infinite.. Only time will tell!!!
Jurica Baljak on May 2, 2007
I thought this movie " The Fountain" was one of the most rediculas movies I have ever seen, I thought it was something that was drug induced to be created and a waste of my time, It was boring and dry and was a make up of fragments non-sence. I after watching this movie tooke it and destroyed it for I will never waste my time watching it again, It is in the garbage basket where it belongs !
mike on May 19, 2007
Aronofsky is the best young director making movies today. 'The Fountain' is a visionary masterpiece. But, like his other movies, it won't be for everyone.
Michael Clark on May 22, 2007
It's an amazingly deep, profound, touching movie. I loved it! And indeed, it was an experience not just a movie. Made me wonder about many things, ideas racing through my mind, feelings, interpretations, religion, literature. It's a masterpiece but unfortunately I would not recommend it to everyone!
Patricia on Nov 28, 2007
something to confuse or maybe explain things better : 22.214.171.124.0 the last day of the mayan calander, also known to some as the day of the end of the world...december 21st, 2012 in the gregorian calender... perhaps the present in the movie is actually 5 years in the future here...with december 12th being the day izzy dies. this would coincide with her referring to the first snowfall of the year as she asks tom to go on a walk a few days or weeks before her own death... I loved this movie, so trippy and beautiful! In mayan belief, the sacred tree is a metaphor for the milky way galaxy...it fits well with tom's journey through space to xibalba
will on Jan 21, 2008
The Fountain is simply one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. I couldn't agree more with this review.
Jonathan on Jan 31, 2008
My boyfriend and I thought it was rubbish. We also thought Sunshine of a whatever was rubbish. You all need to get out more.
Yoda on Mar 14, 2008
An amazing movie. A shame the target audience is so small, as you'll probably need a fairly advanced meditation practice or study to have any understanding of what it's about. The nice part though, is even if you don't have a practice, you can always love it for the art 🙂
Thomas on Apr 24, 2008
No doubt an absolute work of art in its purest and grandest form. Time will definitely tell
xevc on Sep 9, 2008
Magnificent movie. It is the universal human fear: death. We all fear it. I will die, you will die, everything and everyone we know will die. This universe, the "Tree of Life", the Sun, etc. will die. And all these energies will take new forms and the point is that we all will live forever. Maybe not in the sense that we go to "heaven" and assume human forms, thoughts and ideas but our energies will live. We must not fear death or try to stop it; we must love here on earth because genuine love cannot die.
Anna on Oct 2, 2008
The best movie I have seen in a very very long time. It's purpose should be to help make the distinction between those emotionally dead inside - you will not like it if you are among them, and those few who still have feelings. Watch it and it will help you to see in which category you fall.
CDA on Jan 11, 2009
The movie is open for interpretations and that's the beauty of it. Those who do not understand it should stick to Power Rangers. The best movie of the 21st century. PERIOD.
Mayur on Jan 14, 2009
Brilliant. By far one of my forever top 10 choices. I almost knew it would be incredible even when I had only seen the poster fir it before it was actually released. I was more than pleased to find out that I was right. 🙂
CoryCow on Feb 2, 2009
This movie is a unique emotionally experience. Don't miss it.
kris on Aug 15, 2009
I, like many others, am pretty shocked that this film did not receiver better reviews. For me, the film was a visceral experience from beginning to end. I don't have anything more intelligent to say about it since I refuse to analyze the movie. I prefer it to just be a moving picture that really feels good to watch.
Michael on Aug 31, 2009
Emperor has no clothes. She writes a novel where find the cure for her tumour is represented metaphorically as saving the kingdom of Spain from the cancer of the inquisition. When she dies he is only released from his old self, the conquistador, by accepting and thereby conquering death. Monodimensional psychobable, sure it beats don't mess with the Zohan or mall cop, People if you think this is profound go read Jorge Luis Borges, I suggest you start with ficciones
M on Sep 7, 2009
Wow... this movie is amazing from beg to end. It reflects us(thought) in some many ways. For those of us emersed in outer distractions cannot understand or gain from it because our inner has become unknown and confusing.
Ali jaffer on Jan 7, 2010
Stunningly superb. A communication of the founding principals of all existance, and an allegorical account of the cosmic drama of the present time. She is Gaia, he is Bhudda, we are all one, and we must all die and be reborn. The masses, in their media controlled aspartame induced stupor, will neither recognise nor comprehend the divine message within. Dare I mention the forbbiden P word? Food for the mind. I'm glad to see so many understanding and appreciative comments on this site.
Curator_ami on Sep 3, 2010
I find it interesting how opinions on this movie are all over the landscape. It seems some people love it and some people hate it. Opinions on what will happen December 21, 2012 vary even more. I have a blog site that is collecting these opinons about December 21, 2012 and would love it if you would visit and leave your opinion. Also I hope to do a doccumentary on the subject and you may be interviewed and included in the video if you like. Thanks http://december2012.freebrain.biz
Dennis on Feb 8, 2011
I completely agree with your review! i saw this movie just a few days ago and I was left dumbfounded by it. I didn't really get the idea (as probably a lot of other people who liked it) But i must say it's very different. I LOVED the images, it was like i was being brought to another world where colors just pop out of the screen to dance around you like... arghh i dont know but to me this movie was really interesting. Of course a lot of people won't like it because "it doesn't make any sense" they will claim but life doesn't make sense and yet we find ways to make something out of it. Anyways i will be watchin this again and i'll continue telling everybody i know about "The Fountain"...
Allie_M on May 28, 2011
Clearly this film polarises people. I saw it very late one night and found it fascinating. It has its pretensions but I think that it is stunningly visually and in its breadth of ideas. Ignore Dennis's link, it links to a Christian site (cheeky bastard),
greenelfstone on Jun 11, 2011
Sorry, no commenting is allowed at this time.