Original release: November 22nd, 2006
Running time: 96 minutes
Writer and director: Darren Aronofsky
Composer: Clint Mansell
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz
Why are we here, and what happens to us when we’re no longer here? Of all the questions that can be asked, these are the two most important ones that have yet to be answered definitively. While the task has mainly fallen to theologians, philosophers and scientists, artists and storytellers have also long tried to come up with their own ideas on life’s greatest mysteries.
Written for the screen and directed by Darren Aronofsky, The Fountain weaves together three stories; one told from the time of the Conquistadors, the second in the present time and the third from the far future in deep space.
Tomás is a conquistador who embarks on a quest for his queen, Isabella. His journey takes him to the ancient Mayan city where, after an ambush, he finds the mythical Tree of Life that has to power to heal the wounds from his fight. Isabella hopes the Tree will help bring an end to a battle for her throne and she promises to marry Tomás if he returns with it.
In present time, Tommy is a neuroscientist working to find a cure for degenerative brain diseases. His wife Izzi is suffering from a brain tumour and while he’s convinced he can cure her, she makes peace with what’s to come while also writing a story relating to the ancient Mayans. Izzie says to Tommy,
It’s left unfinished as she dies. Tom reads it and plants a seed at her grave.
Deep in space, in travelling in an ecosphere, Tom is alone as he moves ever closer to the golden nebula of Xibalba. His only company is a large tree and he spends his time talking to it, meditating and writing. He hears Izzie’s voice, urging him to “finish it”. The tree is withering though and to bring it back to life, they must reach the nebula. Told with some of the most beautiful images I’ve ever seen, The Fountain is unlike most stories we’ve encountered in film.
Although it’s time span presents a stretch for our imaginations, I found it much simpler to think of it as one complete story rather than three separate ones. Tomás, Tommy and Tom, like Isabella and Izzi, all share one soul, like a seed journeying through eternity, always toward the light where they came from – hoping to be replenished. The moment this happens in the film, it’s both dazzling and profound.
Yet there’s more to it than that. There’s no past and no future here. The story of ApocalyptoThe Fountain exists only in the here and now with Tommy and Izzi as he fights to save her from the flaming sword of mortality – he’s her conquistador she’s been writing about. What remains of her when she dies spurs him on to “finish it” and fulfil her wish, which is what we see when he plants the seed at her grave.
It’s an ambitious film and its themes, at first glance, feel very heavy, but like all of Aronofsky’s films so far, it’s about a central character’s quest through a growing obsession or devotion. Philosophically stirring and visually stunning, it reminds us that while all things die, the mystery of life continues to inspire us without end.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .