Friday, September 25, 2009

the fountain

this is a very visual movie.
i mean, i know movies are a visual medium, but here it's not only a character it seems to be the driving force of the movie, it is the movie.
so three different stories, one about a conquistador looking for the tree of life, one about a doctor that is searching for a cure for cancer (using rare jungle trees!) and the third is about some far out astronaut in a bubble with a tree that he's awfully affectionate with.
oh yes, and all three of these men are played by hugh jackman!

it takes awhile to get used to watching this movie and suss out what's going on, but here's the jist of it.
the conquistador is a story being written by the wife of the doctor, she has a brain tumor and is the main reason he's pushing himself so hard to find a cure. she's researching the book by learning about maya culture. she thinks it's neat they believe the orion nebula is the underworldbecause apparently there is a dying star inside the nebula and once it dies it will help create new stars. bringing new life through death, which is connected to the maya creation story, in this movie anyway.
and the major tom and his dying tree are physically off to this dying star to be given new life.

as for my interpretation, initially i thought perhaps the astronaut is just symbolic, a visual representation of the doctors quest through the movie. however given that this is a sci-fi and aronofsky said little of this is to be taken as just a symbol it is quiet possible that tom is in fact tommy the doctor. see in the course of his studies he finds a tree sample that at first didn't seem to cure the tumor, but instead made the the test monkey younger. eventually it did shrink the tumor but his wife was dead by then. "death is a disease and i'll cure it too!" his wife was ready to die, she was clam, collected, he wasn't ready to lose her. so had he really discovered the tree of life, then he would be the astronaut, which explains why he's haunted by the doctor's dead wife. as for the tree, it's possible it's from the seed he planted on her grave, but more likely he was just projecting her onto it. she had already been given new life, he was looking for a symbolic way to die, to be given new life himself, after centuries of being alone, he was ready to find her again.

the way the three stories all wrap up is nice as well, you see his wife never finished the conquistador story, wanting him to write the last chapter, so he finally writes it, just as the astronaut gets ready to embrace death. the conquistador at long last finds the tree of life, after ripping off the last crusade, it grants the conquistador eternal life, by turning him into a plant. okay, it is kind of clever, and actually fits in with the creation story they gave, and how the wife wants to be buried with a seed. so as the conquistador learns photosynthesis, the doctor goes to his wive's grave and plants a seed, and major tom finally dies in a supernova. and all parts of these overlap in odd ways, like the mayan priest sees thomas as tom, and the supernova can be seen as tommy plants the seed.

i held off writing on this because i wasn't sure how i felt, i'm still not. visually it's one of the most interesting films i've seen, it's really quite beautiful. yet it lacks character. izzie, the doctors wife is a good character, but we don't know anything about thomas and tommy other than than their obsessions, their drive. and neither of them are likable, thomas' men plan a mutiny, and tommy is just a dick. tom is far too removed from reality, although we do see his regrets, such as not going with izzie to walk through the first snow. too late did he realize he should have spent time with her instead of in the lab.

not the best film, i would however rewatch it if the mood struck, it also gits a bonus for it's visual language.

four out of five
it also somewhat reminds me of another visually impressive, universally panned film i enjoyed.

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