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The Fountain

June 14, 2010

It’s an odd feeling to go nearly a month without watching a film in its entirety. I attempted for an entire week to re-watch my childhood favorite Batman and Robin after years of friends assuring me that it was, simply put, garbage. I discovered how right they were when I had to resort to WWI [watching while intoxicated] for 3 days straight only to finish about an hour. I just couldn’t make it through Mr. Freeze’s terrible puns and Uma Thurman’s awful acting among the myriads of other atrocities of that film. Instead a new found interest in an array of subjects, many concert outings, and enjoying the fruits of life have prevented me from finding the time to sit down long enough to watch a good film and review it afterward. In fact the only movie I’ve been able to finish in the last month has been Still Waiting, the unexpected and unwanted sequel to Waiting... My guilty pleasure is that actually enjoyed Still Waiting almost as much as Waiting

Nevertheless I now feel as though the flame in my soul for films has been reignited after watching Darren Aronofsky’s eyegasmic film The Fountain. My soul has remembered why I love the art that is cinema as well as the ideas and stories that can be told through images. That being said, The Fountain is far from perfect, as a whole it’s intensely mediocre due to its melodramatic acting, weak writing, and bland supporting cast. Yet Darren Aronofsky’s visual style and story are the reasons why The Fountain is such a powerful and inspiring piece of art.

At sixteen I saw Requiem for a Dream for the first time and fell in love with cinema. Aronofsky became my favorite director solely because of that film. In fact he’s the reason I became a cinephile and Requiem was the seed that cultivated my knowledge of the production and technique of film and how powerful cinema can be. I had watched nearly every interview with him as well as his commentary on the DVD almost as much as the film itself. Yet for some reason I’ve never got around to finishing Pi, have been trying to hunt down Protozoa for years, and could never muster up the urgency to see The Fountain in its original release. A friend and I discussed these occurrences and concluded that somewhere deep down I knew I had to be ready to watch The Fountain to fully enjoy it and I’m grateful I waited until now.

It’s a film that requires thinking and I don’t mean that in a snotty “it’s high art, you just won’t get it” way, but it truly calls for the viewer to dissect their own minds about not just the story unfolding on screen but their own individuals beliefs and fears. In its simplest form The Fountain is the love story of a scientist, Tommy (Hugh Jackman), who becomes obsessed with finding a cure for his cancer stricken wife Izzie (Rachel Weisz). The narrative complicates the film as their story is retold during the middle ages and into the future (the trick is to remember Izzie writes a book called “The Fountain” as well.) The films ability to project countless themes throughout is the most impressive as its been stuck in my head for days now and I’ve come across themes Eros and Thanatos, critiques of science, existentialism, reincarnation, love as a disease, and salvation whether Aronofsky intended those themes or not.

A master of editing, Aronofsky relies heavily on dramatic fades, black outs, blinding white fades, and match cuts to transport the viewer to various time periods and situations between the couple. The beauty that comes across from the film’s use of lighting can’t be described in words, it’s honestly something that should just be seen as the imagery alone keeps viewers focused and engaged. In fact every friend I’ve talked to who saw The Fountain in it’s release don’t remember the story instead they simply remember liking it because it was an aesthetically beautiful film. The Fountain is pretty much any intellectual or pseudo-intellectual film lover’s wet dream and an impressive work of art. Anyone who can appreciate Greek philosophy, New Age spirituality, and the story and imagery of 2001: A Space Odyssey, will at least appreciate The Fountain.


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