Tuesday, September 1, 2009

#484: The Fountain (2006)

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Hugh Jackman & Rachel Weisz


The Fountain is a larger-than-life film on the themes of life, death, and immortality. Told in three tales, each with just two main characters played by Jackman and Weisz, each story is centralized on the idea of warding off death in attempts to find a Fountain of Youth. Although somewhat difficult to discern, only one of the tales is supposed to be 'real'. Izzie is a writer on her deathbed, and Tom is her doctor husband who is searching for a cure to save her. In Izzie's novel, Tomas is a conquistador searching Mayan ruins for a Fountain of Youth-type tree to allow Isabella to work forever. The hardest one to discern whether it is real or not is a future where Tom is bald, in a bubble preserving a tree, and traveling through space. This, it turns out, is Tom's chapter in Izzie's book which she never finished.

Now, I don't think anybody believes that in the future we will be Buddhist bald-headed treehuggers flying around in magic bubbles. Even if it's supposed to be a novel by a doctor who has a different style of writing than his romantic wife. The special effects in these scenes were over the top, as well. Ebert put it best:

... I will concede the film is not a great success. Too many screens of blinding lights. Too many transitions for their own sake. Abrupt changes of tone. And yet I believe we have not seen the real film. When a $75 million production goes into turnaround and is made for $35 million, elements get eliminated. 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.

I give this film one thumb down. The other thumb pleads the fifth, only because some scenes in the movie were pretty. Jackman is also really good at crying.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):
  • In early 2002, writer/director Darren Aronofsky cast Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in the central leads of Tom and Izzi with a budget of $75 million. During pre-production, Pitt and Aronofsky were having major creative differences, so Pitt left to film Troy(2004) instead and the film was shut down. In early 2004, with a smaller budget of $35 million, Aronofsky cast Hugh Jackman as Tom and Rachel Weisz replaced Blanchett as Izzi. Ironically, Pitt and Blanchett played a couple in a film that was released just before this one (Babel)
  • Instead of using CGI, Aronofsky chose to do the special effects for the film by using micro-photography of chemical reactions on tiny petri dishes. He has said that CGI would take away from the timelessness of the film and that he wants the film to stand the test of time.
  • Tom's last name is Creo which is Latin for "I create." Creo also means "I believe" in Spanish.

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