movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

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I like movies, music and everything esle... ; ) oh... and i can't spell, so, please, no comments

Friday, December 01, 2006

a truly unique film experience

Darren Aronofsky’s newest film THE FOUNTAIN is difficult for me to write a review for because it is not a movie. I know that might sound strange, but in a narrative sense, this is not a movie by the standard definition, it is more of a poem presented in a visual medium. Before you start rolling your eyes and dismiss what I am going to say as pretentious, just let me explain. There is about 15 minutes worth of a narrative story in the film and the rest uses a combination of music, amazing visuals and events to simply capture the emotions explored in the film. That is why I compare it to a poem, because it spends most of the time not trying to tell a story, but to capture the emotion that the story explores.
The plot (or plots) in THE FOUNTAIN is three fold. There are three stories that are intercut that span 1000 years and all star Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. First is the story of a conquistador (Thomas) who is sent on a journey by his queen (Isabel) to Central America to find the tree of life. Upon his return, she will be his and they will be together forever. The second story (and centerpiece) is a story of a scientist (Tommy) who is desperate to find a cure for his terminally ill wife (Izzy). When his team of researchers stumble upon a sample from a tree from Central America, he makes a potentially groundbreaking discovery. The third story is 500 years in the future and centers on a man (Tom) who is in a bubble of sorts traveling through space in an attempt to keep the tree of life alive. I know that this story might not make sense, but it fits in many ways with the bigger picture.
I am sure that while watching this film, many people will simply dismiss it as nonsense and pretentious art for the sake of art, but this is one of the most intimate and personal films that I have seen in quite a while and touched me on a level that I can’t explain. You can tell while watching this movie that it was an extremely personal film for Aronofsky and while I might not go through the journey that he did or even the specific one that he intended, it caused me to ask myself questions about myself, my life and what was really important. I mean this in the most complimentary way. This movie made me think long after I left the theater.
I don’t want to get into what I saw in this film or give you my interpretation of what the different stories meant and what I thought was literal and metaphorical, because I think that it will and should have a different meaning to everyone that watches it. My view and my interpretation of THE FOUNTAIN will no doubt change over the years as my viewpoint on the world shifts, but that is the beauty of the film. It should. While the story is simple, there are so many layers throughout the film, symbolically, literally and emotionally, that I feel like I have barely scratched the surface on a single viewing.
What I can talk about is the pure beauty of the film. The photography, art direction, score, effects, sound and editing all work together to make a stunning piece of cinema. If I were to compare THE FOUNTAIN to any other film that I have seen there is only one that comes to mind… 2001: A SPACE ODESSEY. The main difference between the two is that while 2001 focused on the past, present and future of mankind and its relationship to the universe and technology, THE FOUNTAIN is a much more intimate tale of love, loss, grief, understanding and acceptance. Both dismiss conventional storytelling and rely on the visual medium of film to convey the story and themes that it presents.
THE FOUNTAIN is a unique film and one that is challenging to anyone who watches it. It is an easy film to dismiss, but if you listen to what is has to say, it can touch you and make you think like very few films have the courage to attempt. This movie opened a week or so ago to a weak box office performance and in today’s market that means that there will be a limited chance to see it in the theater before it is yanked and called a failure. This is a movie (like 2001) that should be seen on a big screen. Please do yourself a favor and go out and take a chance on it. You might hate it, but try and be open to a different kind of film experience and it might affect you like few movies can.
If you are interested, here is a link to a review that I found to be really observant. It is much more detailed than my own and might spoil some things, but it is worth a read especially once you have seen the film…
  • Devin Faraci review of THE FOUNTAIN
  • 3 Comments:

    Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

    I have managed to miss this one so far simply due to the glut of movies that are put out at the end of the year, but after reading your review, I definitely have to see it, if only on DVD

    3:04 AM  
    Anonymous Policoff said...

    I have heard that the fountain is a poem, I've heard that it is a symphony, I've heard that it is a mural. If it were any of those things it might have been complete. If Big Abe had figured out a way to tie this film together he would have. The truth is he heard the secret of the universe and tried to run back and tell everybody, but the secret trickled away as he ran, like water through his finger tips. By the time he got back he found himself unable to convey the experience. Like explaining the color blue to a blind man. The saddest thing about this film is Abes inability to reconcile his fate. To have heard the funniest joke ever told and not be able to share it with anyone.

    5:55 PM  
    Blogger Carl said...

    I caught the Phoenix screening and found it captivating. In a discussion afterward, Aronofsky revealed to us that only 3% of the shots in the film utilized CG.

    They accomplished the space shots by useing microscopic imagery of chemical reactions. To me, this makes the film especially impressive and interesting to watch.

    If you'd like to hear more about it in an interview with Aronofsky:
    http://movies.about.com/od/thefountain/a/fountain101906_2.htm

    The subtle symbolizm used to distinguish the three time periods was also a nice touch. Did you notice the shapes that predominated?

    11:08 AM  

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