“Therefore, the Lord God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and
placed a flaming sword to protect the tree of life. – Genesis 3:24”
Teenage girls, social cliques, jealousy, gossips, and the difficulties of attending high school. Cady Heron is the 16-year-old homeschooled daughter of zoologist parents..but this review has nothing to do with Ms. Heron or her life. If you, my dear reader, are interested in watching a film like this, please stop reading now, because the information below is not quite the topic what you are looking for. Still, if you are interested in Mayan culture, Spanish conquistadors, neuroscience and space travelling, you are absolutely on the right place, but I need to warn you; in case you happen to read this review further, you may come across with words such as heresy, inquisition, brain tumour and death.
Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain is not a typical Sunday afternoon movie that you watch once and forget within two seconds. Once you see it you will know what I am talking about. It is that thought-provoking, mysterious, unsettling type of film; the one that is worth to see and think about afterwards. This American drama from 2006 is brilliantly merging fantasy, history, religion and science-fiction into one astonishing story of two lovers and their unavailing search for immortality. The storylines take place in three different eras: one in 1500 A.D., the other in 2000 A.D., and the third in 2500 A.D.; three different stories – one each from the past, present, and future. The main characters are played by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, both of them endowed with an incredible talent, for all the three narratives. Tomás Verde, the conquistador plunges through the Central America forest in Mayan territory and searches for the tree of life and the elixir of immortality to free his captive queen, Isabella, from the Spanish Inquisition. Tom, a medical researcher and neuroscientist, working with various trees, looks for a cure that will save his dying wife, Izzi, who is suffering from brain tumour. Tommy, a space traveler, traveling with an aged tree encapsulated within a bubble, moves toward a dying star that’s wrapped in a nebula; he seeks eternity with his love. The stories intersect and parallel; they are told nonlinearly, each separated by five centuries. Reocccuring scenes, high symbolism, and the thematic movement from darkness into light are all essentially important, conveying the beautifully wrapped but still simple message of the director.
What do I mean by “beautifully wrapped”? The director’s budget-conscious approach and his will to minimize CGI; wonderful space scenes and marvelous visual effects created by using macro photography of deep-sea microorganisms that appreciates the special talent of cinematographer Matthew Libatique and photographer Peter Parks. But the absolute icing on the cake is the award-winning soundtrack by Clint Mansell, who was the composer for Aronofsky’s previous films Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and Black Swan.
According to the director himself “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.” But what is that solution? I am frightfully sorry to say that, but it is anything but a happy ending. The solution provided by the director is coming to terms with death. As Hugh Jackman emphasized in an interview: “The moment Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, humans started to experience life as we all experience it now, which is life and death, poor and wealthy, pain and pleasure, good and evil. We live in a world of duality. Husband, wife, we relate everything. And much of our lives are spent not wanting to die, be poor, experience pain. It’s what the movie’s about.” And this is the exact reason why this movie is not meant for everyone. Aronofsky’s open interpretation of different kinds of religions such as Zen Buddhism and Christianity, and his peculiar perspective that varies from everything about Western culture surely generates hatred and distaste. Another complaint about the film is that it is extremely hard to understand. Answering these complaints, this is rather an experience than just a film to watch. Viewers do not need to understand every single moment and detail. It is more important to feel it; therefore, an appropriate amount of emotional intelligence is needed.
I remember the ending of my screening. The various scenes, the last couple of moments full of tension, and the brilliant music that just gripped my heart and grabbed my full attention..in a way that after the finale I was completely blown away with tears in my eyes. At the end of the 96th minute, I believe, there are two kinds of people: those who hate this movie and will never intend to watch it again ( but I hope they already left and now happily watching Mean Girls instead) and those who say it is clearly a masterpiece. I am definitely in the second group.