Admit it, there are some movies that people, in general just don’t like. These movies are just too abstract, too out there, too ambitious too confused for them. While this might be true, the confusion might be real, this sheer genius is over looked by critics and people who just refuse to see beyond the normal.
Ten years ago today, A masterpiece was born. I was young, i was naive, and the movie so ahead of its time that understand it, was not something I could even try to do!
The fountain was one of those movies, it is still called Arronofsky’s weakest film to this day that remains a shame because I think this movie, was Aronofsky’s most emotional, complex, and rewarding film.
In a very short and not so confusing way, the plot of movie looks like this. The film consists of three story lines, in which Jackman and Weisz play different sets of characters who may or may not be the same two people: a modern-day scientist and his cancer-stricken wife, a conquistador and his queen, and a space traveler in the future who hallucinates his lost love. The story lines—interwoven with use of match cuts and recurring visual motifs—reflect the themes of love and mortality.
At heart, this is a simple Zen fable about love and death. In execution, it’s a complex and gorgeous mini-epic with sterling performances from its two stars. I think this movie was Hugh Jackman’s most beautiful performance where he just so expressive and emotional and real.
“It’s rare you see a man cry on film, especially a man cry over love. It’s a shame that type of sentimentality isn’t represented in film. I think it turns some people off. A lot of women told me they had never seen a man cry like that before and didn’t know how to handle it.” Arronofsky says.
He says it took him more than six years to finally make this movie, and this was particularly close to his heart, as close to a biopic as he would get. And the result was one of the most divisive films of all time. When it premiered at Cannes for press and critics, it was met with a choir of boos. Meanwhile, when it was premiered in that very same festival for regular audiences, it received a standing ovation from the crowd. When it finally released for the public in theaters, it bombed at the box office and received none other than a 50% consensus rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And now, 10 years have passed, it’s garnered something of a cult-following.
In reality, what these critics didn’t know was that this wasn’t a film about unlocking the secrets of life, death, and the meaning of the universe. Rather, The Fountain is a film about how we process death, and the existential crises that happen not within the vast reaches of the cosmos but within our very own subconscious.
The three story lines are told nonlinearly, each separated by five centuries. The three periods are interwoven with match cuts and recurring visual motifs; Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz play the main characters for all three narratives.Even within a given narrative, the elements of that particular story are not told in chronological order.
Whether these stories are actual events, or symbolic, is not clarified; and, director Darren Aronofsky emphasized that the storylines in their time periods and their respective convergences were open to interpretation.The director has said of The Fountain‘s intricacy and underlying message, “[The film is] very much like a Rubik’s Cube, where you can solve it in several different ways, but ultimately there’s only one solution at the end.”
And it is, it so is like a rubic’s cube. It has been years and everytime I watch the movie, I find something new. A hint of an emotion tucked in a scene, a dialogue, repeated throughout the three storylines, and the motifs : The triangle for the Spanish inquisition phase, Square for the contemporary phase and circle for the space ship phase, they were just genuis and shot so immaculately. There in, in those perfectly set up details is where Arronofsky’s true genius lies. The story builds up slowly but powerfully untill the characters start to evolove, and this sort of development makes sense considering this is a story about personal introspection, and ultimately, an existential crisis doesn’t mean squat if the character doesn’t evolve from it. The same can be applied to Aronofsky himself, who clearly has a deep connection to what’s on screen.
In a 2012 interview, Aronofsky stated that “ultimately the film is about coming to terms with your own death”.
The film’s central section is unalloyed realism, and generates the fantasy of the first and third.
Is all of this easy to arrive at? Perhaps not, but it all makes for a beautifully fulfilling story that only grows richer with time. Certainly Aronofsky could have given this understanding to us if he so wished. A simple scene of Tom 1 beginning to write the future tale would have answered all questions and removed any need for deeper study.
But it was genius to leave it out. Because without that scene the movie requires a focused study of the themes, characters, and events to arrive at a solution. Given the weight of what he took on, Aronofsky ensured that anyone struck by the beauty of the film would have to continue to mull over what it felt about love, death, loyalty, rebirth and our place in the universe.
Instead of giving us easy answers, Aronofsky gave us all an opportunity to explore that which is deepest and most sacred in ourselves and those we love. The fact that he happily risked the derision of critics put off by the films audacious scope, or simply too lazy to contemplate a work that was more challenging than typical RomCom fare, shows that among many other admirable qualities, Darren Aronofsky is a filmmaker with a clear vision and spunk in spades!
Check out the original commentary by Darren Arronofksy himself here!
As Roger Ebert so aptly put it “When a film telling three stories and spanning thousands of years has a running time of 96 minutes, scenes must have been cut out. There will someday be a Director’s Cut of this movie, and that’s the cut I want to see.”
Ps : Just like the movie, i had to edit ounces of fan girl things i wrote about this movie. Let me know if any one wants another part of this post!
Meanwhile, do listen to the spectacular soundtrack of this movie! I guarantee, it will transport you in an ethereal dimension!