Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Title:The Fountain
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Mark Margolis, Stephen McHattie, Fernando Hernandez, Cliff Curtis, Sean Patrick Thomas, Donna Murphy, Ethan Suplee
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Where do we start? At the beginning? With creation myths? In the beginning there was the first father, he sacrificed himself to create the world, from his flesh grew the tree, from the tree grew the world. In the beginning there was Adam and Eve, and there were two trees in the Garden of Eden, when they ate of knowledge they were cast out, and the tree of life was hidden from them. In the beginning, man and woman, love and death, life and life eternal. Death is a disease, so it must have a cure?

Tom is a doctor, a specialist doing research in brain tumours. Using a fragment of a tree found in South America he has had fantastic results. But will it be too late for his wife Izzi? A writer, dying of a brain tumour. Despite his insistence that he will save her, she has accepted the end, hands him the manuscript of her last work - The Fountain - finished but for the last chapter, which she bids him complete for her.

The Fountain is the story of the conquistador Tomas and the queen of Spain Isabel. She sends him to the South American Mayan kingdom, convinced that the jungles hide the biblical tree of life, and that this will help her fight back the forces of the Inquisition. But if the tree provides eternal life, where does the story end? A man in a bubble, floating through space, floating towards a dying star, just him and the tree of life?

Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain came close to being one of those films that never happened after so much work. Ironically I saw The Fountain the same day as I saw Babel, The Fountain originally to have been made with Babel's leads Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. But when Pitt and Aronofsky fell out, it looked like the end of the film. A defiant Aronofsky went back to the drawing board, reworking the piece, collaborating with artist Kent Williams on the graphic novel which appeared last year. Then returning with the cast of Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz and a budget cut in half.

Clint Mansell contributed to the soundtrack to Pi, Aronofsky's first feature, taking on a more central role with his follow up Requiem For A Dream. Mansell, formerly from the band Pop Will Eat Itself, has done a number of soundtracks, becoming a familiar name from film credits. But it is his work with Aronofsky that will be remembered. The soundtrack Mansell did with The Kronos Quartet for Requiem has become anthemic, used for the promotion of Lord Of The Rings, TV ads and currently in the trailer for Danny Boyle's Sunshine, which was shown before The Fountain. Once again Mansell works with The Kronos Quartet, this time adding in the contribution of Mogwai, to present another stunning soundtrack, which once again merges perfectly with Aronofsky's narrative.

The Fountain is over the top, spanning thousands of years from the Mayan past to a future in space. But for all that it’s a human story, rooted in the present, one man's desperate attempts to save the woman he loves from death. The result is carefully crafted, woven together and just wonderful.

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