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The Fountain

A movie directed by Darren Aronofsky

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Umm, What Was That, or What Is This?

  • Sep 13, 2008
  • by
Pros: None really

Cons: Almost everything

The Bottom Line: Skip The Fountain; what started out perhaps to be a journey into the spiritual realm turned out to be short trip into a scattered mind with little direction.  

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

I like to watch movies; all sorts of movies, but by the end I would like to know what to movie was/is all about. Call me old-fashioned, but like my books I would like my movies to have some definition; i.e. a discernable beginning, middle, and end and ultimately be about more than visual effects. The Fountain (2006) did not deliver.

The Story

Written and Directed by a clearly unbalanced Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream) The Fountain consists of three interconnected threads separated by oh, a few thousand years, give or take. All of the threads are tied together by a common theme, the mythical Fountain of Youth, and two seeming immortal characters bond together by love! How quaint!

In the first, thread, or story-line a Conquistador named Tomas (Hugh Jackman - Xmen, X2, The Prestige) is seeking the Fountain of Youth for the benefit and love of Spain's Queen Isabella I of Castile (Rachel Weisz - The Mummy, Stealing Beauty, The Constant Gardener), who is about the lose her crown to the Spanish Inquisition (a historical inaccuracy insofar as she started the Inquisition).

The second thread takes place in the here and now. This time Jackman is a doctor named Tommy and he seeking a cure for the terminal disease afflicting his wife Izzi (Weisz) by experimenting on primates. He has developed a drug from the bark of a mysterious tree.

In the third and final thread, set in the future, a bald Jackman, Tom Creo, floats through the universe in a translucent bubble reminiscent of a snow globe, in the company of a tree, the tree of life. And whilst in this globe he is able to mentally transport himself back and forth between the previous threads.

My Thoughts

Other than the constant of the characters and the tree, it is never made clear how these threads tie together to form a cohesive story. Aronofsky never really clarifies what we are seeing, or who or what the characters are, or what they are supposed to be accomplishing. We are just flung in the middle of a story with no discernable beginning, middle or end. The effect, far from evoking intellectual curiosity, instead imbibes one with a profound befuddlement as the film flashes from one time-line to the other with logical explanation.

And like most modern films, the darn trailer for The Fountain does a better job of laying out the basic premise of the movie than the movie itself; indeed it is not until we are two-thirds of the way through this rather colorful, but moribund movie that we given enough to make the light bright enough to see half of the meaning, and by that time, I had ceased to care!

And do not look to the end of the movie to bring one a sense of satisfaction. Having figured out some of what is going on, the movie leaves one with unanswered questions; e.g. did Tomas the Conquistador find the Fountain? And as my wife asked at the end: are he and Queen Isabella supposed to be immortal, living in the 21st century as husband and wife? Or are they reincarnations of their former selves from a previous time? And if immortal how then can she die of a very mortal ailment?

And how are Izzi and the Tree of Life/ Fountain of Youth tied together? And what were the references to Adam & Eve and the Tree of Knowledge meant to infer; that they-Tomas and Izzi-were the original Adam & Eve? So many questions and absolutely no answered from Aronofsky. It's almost as if he went to sleep in the middle of writing the screenplay, woke up and handed it in unfinished.

I give props to Jackman, Weisz and a suburb supporting cast, but they could do little to enliven the terminally ill script. Neither of the principle characters was drawn with enough depth or color to register in the mind as "old souls," so that the suggestion of perpetual love flowing as it were through the ages never jells with the intended mythic force.

The Fountain wanted desperately to tell a tale of human love and pain that is so deep and abiding that is took on a life of its own and spanned ages. Sadly, the story fails to take hold, and at times as I watched The Fountain it felt as if I were trapped in the glow bubble with Jackman floating through a very colorful, but ultimately cold and dismal universe forced to eat hairy tree bark for the rest of my life!
Skip The Fountain; what started out perhaps to be a journey into the spiritual realm turned out to be short trip into a scattered mind with little direction.


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: None of the Above
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More The Fountain reviews
review by . January 10, 2011
*** out of ****      "The Fountain" left me feeling completely drained. While it was confusing and a tad uneven, Darren Aronofsky's third feature was also beautiful and rich with both visual and intellectual spectacle. Yes, I'm one of the many non-professional film critics who liked Aronosky's "The Fountain". And don't ask me why, because I'm going to tell you soon enough. As you may know, I am indeed an admirer of complex, diverse films. …
Quick Tip by . February 21, 2011
Of all the movies I've seen, this is one of the most difficult to understand. The narrative structure is complex, the characters are multi-dimsensional, and the themes are very weighty. That said, if you put the effort into "reading" this movie, it will be one of the most rewarding you've seen. It's my personal favorite.
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
I actually really liked this movie...it was...interesting, but in a good way.
review by . December 24, 2008
Director Darren Aronofsky (Pi and Requiem for a Dream) has created a niche for himself in the film industry. Much like filmmakers David Lynch, Terry Gilliam, and Vincent Ward, Darren Aronofsky explores the realm of dark drama, where dreams and fantasies flow into everyday reality. His film, The Fountain, is an ambitious science fiction/fantasy film with a strong metaphysical undercurrent. As always, Aronofsky utilizes his keen visual sense of storytelling while focusing on characterization and maintaining …
review by . November 17, 2008
(Based on "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer)     I thought that I would never see   A movie centered `round a tree     A tree whose milky sap can bring   An end to human suffering     A tree that looks up to the sky   While time on earth is passing by     A tree that from First Father grew   A star that dies and starts anew     Within whose bosom lies the cure   For …
review by . July 11, 2007
One recurring theme for manifests itself annually in Hollywood is the movie about lovers transcending death and time to be with each other. Past examples include Somewhere in Time, The Lake House, Timeline, Bicentennial Man, and maybe even the Sixth Sense. This is probably the weirdest of them all, but also the most intriguing. The movie is actually three stories wrapped into one, all of which feature three characters, Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, and a tree that gives life. The three are intertwined …
review by . June 20, 2007
There is something going on here. If I were to say that I knew what everything in "The Fountain" is supposed to mean, I'd probably be a liar. That said, I feel that I got the general idea. Many people have compared this film's esoteric, pseudo-intellectual appeal to something like Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, but I think this is a wrong claim to make. There are many moments in the Fountain in which the story is too desperately being explained to us. Rachel Weisz is an amazing actress but half …
review by . May 17, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Nothing comes to mind      Cons: Horrific plot, it is both nearly impossible to follow and not worth the effort.      The Bottom Line: Unless you just want to waste ninety minutes, don't bother with this one.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.      Darren Aronofsky is not for emotional lightweights. In is film Pi a super genius mathematician whose talents …
review by . May 16, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
New Age fairy tale, `The Fountain,' taps into our most primitive regions by transcending space and time to seek the antidote to man's mighty enemy--Death. Drawing upon a hodgepodge of religious imagery, the movie intersects four time frames, including ancient times and the biblical Tree of Life; the trappings of Medeival Spain when ascetical practices were sometimes severe, and the Inquisition made "heresy" contraband; today, and the future when mankind potentially can reap the benefits of science …
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #187
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie


It's been a long, strange trip since Darren Aronofsky last invited viewers into his cinematic world--six years in fact--but THE FOUNTAIN is sure to enchant, beguile, and inspire intense debate among his patient fans. During the frustrating gap since 2000's REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, Aronofsky has struggled to bring THE FOUNTAIN to the screen, principally because leading man Brad Pitt dropped out of the project.

The complex tale is split into three different time periods, beginning in the 16th century, when a conquistador named Tomas (Hugh Jackman) strives to find the Tree of Life. The second part of the story finds Jackman playing a Buddha-like character who zips through outer space and dreams of a woman named Izzi (Rachel Weisz).

And the third part, which consumes most of the film's screen time, is set in the present day and sees Jackman playing a doctor named Tommy, who is married to the terminally-ill Izzi. In this third section Tommy strives to find a cure for Izzi's brain tumor, and makes some progress af...
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