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The Fountain (2006 PG-13)

April 29, 2007

What the sphere looks like.


The cast of The Fountain is relatively small in number, but both Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz play three characters or versions of themselves depending on how the viewer interprets it. A few other familiar faces can be seen in Ellen Burstyn, Stephen McHattie, and Ethan Suplee. The supporting cast is just that, as Jackman and Weisz dominate the story and the screen time.

Cast = 18


The soundtrack definitely helps add a suspense and at the same time an ambiguity or sense of bewilderment to the film. My only gripe with the score is that sometimes it felt that perhaps a scene dragged on merely to accommodate the music. I’m fairly certain this isn’t the case, but it felt like it nonetheless.

Soundtrack = 16

Quote/Catch Phrase

I suppose the central theme of the film can be found in one line that was repeated several times by at least two different characters, and that is “Death is the road to awe.” I rather like that line as it has many potential applications.

Quote/Catch Phrase = 18


The story is essentially a take on the fountain of youth. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz’s characters are a couple in the year 2005. She is dying of some disease, one that presumably involves a tumor on her brain. She also happens to be a writer, or at least writes a story during her illness. Jackman’s character is a scientist/doctor who is working to find a cure for the disease, or a means to eradicate the tumor. He is restless in his attempts to discover a cure, but as a result he spends less time with her than he could.

She is calm with her situation, and tells him about some of the research she did for her book. A Mayan guide told her a story about his father. He said that the father did not really die. That if you dug up his grave you would find no body, because a tree was planted there and he entered the tree. As the tree bears fruit, a he is found in the fruit. As a bird eats of the fruit he enters the bird. In short, death becomes the road to awe. Jackman’s character doesn’t much care for the story, as he wants her alive with him just as they are. As he comes closer and closer to an apparent means of immortality and restoration of health, she weakens and dies.

On her deathbed, she asks him to write the last chapter of her story. The story starts in 16th century Spain with her character, Queen Isabella, sending Jackman’s Tomas to the New World in search of a miraculous find. A certain Franciscan has returned to Spain with a story he learned from a Mayan priest. The story involved the First Father, how he sacrificed himself for the world, and the Tree of Life. Bolstered by the similarities of the account of Genesis, she sends Tomas to find the tree whose sap grants immortality so that Spain can throw off the scourge of the Inquisitor. After much turmoil and a mutiny, Tomas finds the hidden Mayan temple which houses the tree and presumably is built where the Garden of Eden once was. Her portion of the story ends with a Mayan priest blocking the way to the tree, and stabbing Tomas.

The film also jumps to a third existence or moment in time. The 26th century sees a bald, heavily tattooed Jackman tending a withering tree in a small sphere that is traveling through space. In the 2005 setting, Weisz’s character, named Isabel or Izzi for short, tells Jackman’s, Tommy, of some Mayan beliefs. Among them, that the First Father’s sacrifice sent his head to a distant star known as Xibalba, which is surrounded by a golden nebula. This star is the place where dead spirits go to be reborn. The 26th century Jackman is found hurtling towards that star hoping to get there in order to restore the tree to life.

The next bit is pure conjecture on my part, and is my interpretation of the film. You may not wish to read further as it contains what could amount to spoilers.

The dying tree is presumably a tree planted by Tommy near Izzi’s grave. Thus, the tree is a manifestation of Izzi herself. Tommy’s research lead to a means of immortality. He had thought that immortality would bring happiness, but without Izzi by his side he is far from happy. Izzi’s spirit keeps admonishing him to “finish it.” He finishes the story by finishing his life and finding peace in that death. He and the tree approach the dying star Xibalba just as it explodes thereby causing a rebirth. Presumably, he and Izzi are together for eternity and are thereby truly happy. She was able to see that death lead to this happiness or awe, but until the end, he saw death as a disease that could be cured.

I think the story had some astonishing parallels or similarities with actual doctrine. That death is a necessary step into eternal life, that eternity, not immortality, yields lasting happiness; and that the Garden of Eden is in the Americas. These piqued my interest enough to continue watching even as the movie seemed to drag.

Story = 18


Here lies the rub. The movie seemed to be rather long. As we are lead back and forth between the three locations, we are given more and more information, but at a somewhat lethargic pace. That pacing is my biggest complaint of the movie. I almost wanted to watch the movie again just to solidify a few thoughts in my head before attempting a review, but I was loath to. That said, I am not opposed to seeing the film again as the conclusions are left to the viewer to determine.

I like that in films. I was so impressed with this film, despite its pacing problems, that I now feel compelled to give Aronofsky‘s other works a look.

Rewatchability = 14

Total Score = 84

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2007 7:11 pm

    OK, you have this listed as a pg-13 movie, but blockbuster lists it as a R. are they releasing a different version on DVD?

  2. April 29, 2007 7:23 pm

    It was re-rated on appeal, and given a PG-13 rating. As much as I can recall, there was only one major curse word. Some violence, but I thought the most gruesome thing was a little tattoo imagery.

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