The Fountain is a 2006 film from Darren Aronofsky
– oh, we’re doing this again? Okay. It’s difficult to classify this movie because unlike,
uh, d- God. That’s annoying. It’s difficult to classify because unlike … Blarren Scaronofsky’s
other films, it isn’t spelled out quite so clearly. And by clearly spelled out, I
mean the lead character’s life essentially ends by actual death, or fate just as bad
as. I mean, let’s run ‘em down. Pi – Max is too smart and he can’t cope
so he … he puts a drill through his fuckin’ brain.
Requiem for a Dream – Tyrone goes to Jail. Harry loses his arm. Sara’s brain is like
completely destroyed and she’s committed. And Marion … I don’t wanna talk about
because Keith David’s a bad dude. The Wrestler and Black Swan – I can these
films tackle at the same time because they are ostensibly the same movie because you
have a person obsessed with their particular craft so deeply that they are willing to die
for the art of the performance. I mean, they literally die for their audience because even
despite the familial connections they leave behind, they value the entertainment of others,
over life. And Noah – wait, what the shit. He did Noah?
I didn’t even watch that whole movie. Like, I was watching it and then … I wasn’t
watching it. Cuz it’s … not good. Who did you make this movie for? It wasn’t Christians.
Cuz … you added these weird fuckin’ rock people for … some reason.
I mostly aim to point out that Karen Marinofsky doesn’t really aim to tell stories that
would be considered by most to be uplifting. One might say, he creates beautiful films
that take a nakedly bleak look at the inner truths of humanity.
Like Taco Bell. When The Fountain came out, it was not met
with great reviews. And like most films, I’m not sure the critics really got it. They’ll
tell you they did, but between you and me, they didn’t get it.
Roger Ebert at least understood that the film isn’t three random stories pasted together,
but actually a single story, told in the present day. Though, he still kinda missed why this
was happening. It’s just story about a man desperately
trying to find a way to cure his wife’s cancer. Izzi, a novelist, is writing a book
and that book is represented as the fantastical historical timeline. Her husband, who agrees
before he dies to write the last chapter, represents the future timeline. Their actual
story, the present timeline, infiltrates the future timeline because the memory of Izzi
haunts Tommy and every step he takes on his “journey.” Or more poetically, every step
he takes on her journey after she died. And they are, for all intents and purposes,
a past and future timeline because Izzi has already written the majority of her book in
the present timeline, and Tommy has yet to write the rest in the future timeline. So
yes, in the most literal sense, they are a past, present and future timeline. And the
same actors play the characters in all timelines because it’s a metaphor.
Can we stop arguing about this movie now because it’s not that complicated. Okay goodbye.
I love the fake credits joke. I’m never gonna stop doing it.
I think this movie is so clever. To me, it’s easily Aronofsky’s best and I’m a little
sad about it because after the six-year ordeal it took him to make this movie, upon release
it was savagely ripped apart by critics. It’s only at 51% on Rotten Tomatoes because people
went back and reviewed it later. Ebert’s review was written ten months after the film
came out, being one of the only reviews that I can find to explain that the three storylines
aren’t actually meant to fit together literally. But even he didn’t understand that they
aren’t to be taken as interweaving contiguous stories. And I can’t find a single review
that even touches on the fact that the past storyline represents Izzi’s mindset leading
up to the moment of her death, writing a book as an acceptance of her own mortality. I mean,
the main character in the story is searching for the tree of life and ends up becoming
a tree because she was accepting what was going to happen to her. That it is set during
the Spanish Inquisition is her rejecting of the religion almost surely bombarded her from
every direction. And then the future timeline is simply Tommy’s
mindset as he writes a book about the acceptance of her death after it has already occurred
in the present timeline, and it’s a pretty simple metaphor of a dude bringing a dying
tree across space because Izzi’s book was about her dying and turning into a tree so
he now he’s just trying to save the tree. We can tell that Hugh Jackman is playing both
characters, Izzi’s and his own, because he talks to the tree as if its her, and we’ve
already seen that conquistajackman dies and becomes the tree. Izzi becomes the tree, he
travels across space to save it. That’s remarkably sad, poignant, and beautiful.
Oh, but it was Hugh Jackman who turned into the tree because it’s not literal enough
even though she was writing the book from the hero’s perspective and just happened
to be played by her husband. Fuck it HALF A STAR
Christ reading what people think about this movie makes me want to punch a hole in a sea
otter. The story behind this film is equally interesting.
Originally envisioned as a 70+ million dollar epic starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett,
hey remember when Brad Pitt had that huge beard? Yeah, that was for this movie. Which
he never shot. The budget was eventually chopped down to 35 million and recast with Hugh Jackman
and Rachel Weiss, and I think in parts you can tell.
No critics understood this movie because they’re paid to see anywhere from 1 to 3 movies a
week and somehow, write a kneejerk review about them, usually at face value with no
time for the films to set in. And that’s why sometimes great films get bad reviews.
Cuz you gotta take enough time for a coke and smile and think about that shit. And I’m
not saying that any of these critics aren’t intelligent. Ebert could’ve buried me with
just the thoughts he forgot about film, but it’s movies like this that require contemplative
thought, possibly watching a film a few times to really soak in the years spent crafting
that particular piece of art. Darr—oh, for fuck’s sake. Don’t you
do it again. Don’t you do it. I’m gonna say his name. I’m gonna do it. Darren Aron
.. ofsky—you mother fucker. You know what was nominated for Best Picture
that year? Ahem The Departed, Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima,
Little Miss Sunshine, and The Queen—I had to look up what The Queen was cuz I didn’t
remember, but other than that, I like all those movies. But they’re not as good as
this one. I think if you put the first three together, you might be close. Like a Departed
Letters from Babel…jima. That’s … not gonna work
But let’s talk about the real Academy travesty here, Best. Original. Score.
Outside of the fact, that the Academy didn’t even nominate it that year. And the fact that
the Golden Globes did, but gave the award to The Painted Veil, not only is this the
greatest film score of 2006, I think you could make a case that this is one of the greatest
film scores of all time. Yeah, I said it and it’s certainly one of
my favorites. What’s so important to look at with a film score, outside of it’s composition,
is how it’s designed and layered into the film. You will simply never find a more nuanced,
layered, and impactful use of sound in a movie. In a film almost entirely about death, one
lonely cello, travel to finds the tree of life, while one lonely piano travels across
the entire universe to save it. And much of the film is spent layering instruments on
top of them, the film begins with a cello and ends with a piano. It begins with Izzi
and it ends with Tommy. As a thought exercise, I tried to think of
a film that was this misunderstood and I’m having trouble thinking of anything close.
I mean, I can think of a lot of movies that are this polarizing for people. And a lot
of times it just comes down to perspective. A lot of people hate Signs because they like
to thoughtlessly regurgitate some angry rants on the internet about how the aliens didn’t
know that the earth was 70% water when they chose to invade and I counter that they did
fuckin’ know but through catastrophic circumstances, were simply desperate enough to try it—and
FURTHER, and this is why I love the film. Signs is the story of a priest who lost his
faith in God and it is only restored by an invasion of extra terrestrials. A man regains
his faith in god, because aliens. BWAH BWAH BWAH
But whereas Signs was the last time that Shyamalan was palatable, The Fountain was a 6-year endeavor
for Aronofsky and honestly, he dumbed down his films after it failed to connect with
an audience. The Wrestler is a great movie, but he didn’t write it. He also didn’t
write Black Swan—and they’re both films that are painstakingly constructed so an audience
is not trusted to interpret them at anything other than face value. The Wrestler is a fly-on-the-wall
look at a man obsessed with regaining his former glory, despite knowing that his body
is incapable of sustaining it. I mean, you cast Mickey Rourke, you ain’t exactly going
for nuance. And Black Swan aims to give us perspective on the mental trauma that being
the best in your field at something is pressure that can absolutely destroy you. So he basically
just made a horror movie that paints a visual of what’s happening inside of Nina’s head
at all times. And again, they’re both absolutely fantastic films, but Aronofsky left practically
zero room for interpretation because I’m not sure he trusts the audience or the industry
to put a puzzle together if he’s not there guiding their hand over every piece … and
I can’t say I blame him. And maybe that’s the ultimate truth of the
movie. Maybe sometimes people don’t understand what we’re going for. The fountain gives
us a window into Tom and Izzi’s minds, through of the lens of the stories they’re writing.
Izzi never has to tell us that she’s religious and believes in a God, because her writing
does. Genesis 3:24 “After he drove the man out, he placed on
the east side of the Garden of Eden a cherub and a flaming sword flashing back and forth
to guard the way to the tree of life.” And this is the story she chose to tell, even
if she rejects the religion that surrounds it.
I cannot stress how brilliant this film is. We see an impossible situation, a man watching
his wife slowly die in front of him. We are not told their thoughts, we are merely shown
the stories they write and we must discern their mindset by extrapolating from them.
Izzi’s story is ultimately about the inevitability of death, that those seek the tree of life,
or in other words, the fountain of youth, will find immortality, but that immortality
is inevitable whether you seek it or not because once we become one with the ground, we are
immortal. The tree only accelerates the journey back to the ground from which we came. Ashes
to ashes. Dust to dust. And Tommy’s story is one of hope told after
he’s already lost his. That if her story was about the lies the tree of life has told
us, Tommy still attempts to save it anyway. It is no coincidence that Izzi imagines death
by being one with the ground and Tom imagines death as being one with the heavens because
her story is the acceptance of death and his story is attempting to transcend it.
And they’re both right and they both succeed. Izzi accepts her death but their stories transcend
it. Even if it is inevitable, that someday every single one of us will die, some sooner
than others, the only true immortality is the stories we tell each other. Because our
best stories will live forever. And The Fountain is one of our best stories
and if we remember it, together, we will live forever.