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THE FOUNTAIN by Darren Aronofsky


** SPOILER WARNING – some details and plot developments will be revealed **

1500 A.D.:
Conquistador Tomas (Hugh Jackman) is searching for the Tree of Life in South America for the Queen of Spain (Rachel Weisz) and encounters Mayan warriors, a Maya priest with a flaming sword, and death.

2000 A.D.:
Tommy Creo (Hugh Jackman) is desperately searching for a cure for cancer. His wife Izzi (Rachel Weisz) is suffering from brain tumors and Tommy won’t accept she will eventually die. For him, death is just a disease that can be cured like any other disease. His last hope is an extract from a Guatemalan tree.
Tommy reads Izzi’s unfinished manuscript titled “The Fountain” about Spanish conquistador Tomas searching for the Tree of Life in South America for his queen …

2500 A.D.:
Tom (Hugh Jackman) is racing towards a dying star in a sphere with only the moribund Tree of Life and his memories of Izzi (Rachel Weisz) as company. When he reaches the dying star in time, Tom is convinced, the energies of the star will revive the Tree of Life and thus guarantee his own immortality.

the fountain - maya priest with flaming sword  rachel weisz - the fountain 
hugh jackman and rachel weisz - the fountain  the fountain 

Darren Aronofsky’s most ambitious project so far was conceived in 1999 and initial pre-production started – fittingly (2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the major influences, the other one being The Matrix) – in the year 2001. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were attached to the film then.
When Brad Pitt left the project, production came to a halt, and Aronofsky produced the graphic novel The Fountain before the film project got revived in 2004.

Love, Life, Death and Immortality are the central themes of The Fountain and the three stories and times (past, present and future) it tells about. The questions the film asks are timeless: Can you live forever? Or is Death an inevitable part of Life? Is it the death of the Old that gives life to the New? Do you live on in matter when you die? Is Love truly eternal?
Izzi accepts death near the end of her life and is able to overcome her fear, but Tomas/Tommy/Tom is clinging to life and is convinced man can and shall conquer death and live forever, but it’s a losing battle in all times – Tomas (who may be only a character in Izzi’s manuscript, or not) finally finds the Tree of Life after leading all his men into death, but he doesn’t get what he expected; Tommy can’t save Izzi; Tom, after an eternity, accepts his fate, and – possibly – creates a new universe of life just like the First Father of the Mayan myth who sacrificed himself to create the world. But Tom himself may be just the creation of Tommy who fulfills Izzi’s wish to finish her manuscript. Tom’s loneliness, his obsession for the Tree of Life and life eternal, the spirit of Izzi haunting Tom and his final acceptance of death are Tommy’s final chapter of Izzi’s manuscript and his way to deal with his loss and the guilt he feels for spending too much time searching for a non-existent cure instead of spending it with Izzi.

Heavy stuff then, plenty of food for thought, and a lot more 2001: A Space Odyssey than The Matrix. Great visuals, but light on the action, which may be in part explained by the reduced budget – The Fountain was produced for what would be the budget for the “Second Assistant of Mr. Cruise’s Eyebrow Stylist” in a summer blockbuster movie (not really, but $35 million is low-budget these days).
Budget restrictions aside, what is lacking is emotion – the Tommy/Izzi relationship doesn’t spark enough, so The Fountain is too cerebral for a really great and gripping experience for both brain and heart. If you enjoyed 2001: A Space Odyssey you probably will enjoy The Fountain as well, but if you expect The Matrix you will be disappointed.

The Fountain trailer

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