“The Fountain“, directed by Darren Aronofsky, captures the essence of story-telling in a very profound way. Starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz as the main protagonists in this seemingly non-linear story, the film unfolds in a very strange and potentially inaccessible way for audiences. “The Fountain” features a salad bowl of ideas and themes that most film-makers might/should stay away from for fear of loosing focus on a core message. It also pushes against the traditional style of story telling, letting the audience become a participant in the examination of the film’s message. What I think really works with “The Fountain” are two things. Firstly, Darren Aronofsky manages to hold onto all the different strings that are inherent in a story of such magnitude and weave those strings together to become a taut rope from which the viewer can follow only after sitting through the entire movie. And secondly, the place where the story takes you is different each time you view it because of the variety of themes that emerge within the story over the course of the film. Darren Aronofsky, with “The Fountain”, has created a very sophisticated and intricate bridge that takes you somewhere different everytime you cross it.
I feel these things work because of a variety of reasons. First things first, the acting was fabulous. I cannot express how heartfelt Hugh Jackman’s and Rachel Weisz’s performances were in this movie. The emotion their characters exude pour through the screen and hold onto you until you can’t help but connect with them. I was really impressed by Jackman in this movie, and knowing a little bit more about the production of the movie learning about the challenges that Aronofsky had to go through to get the picture made, I can’t see another actor in his role (Brad Pitt was supposed to play Jackman’s character). It, to me, has become his defining character, perhaps equivalent in emotional outpouring and as close to achieving a connection with what could be considered a soul as Stallone in “Rocky” or Rourke in “The Wrestler“. This by no means is an action movie, despite elements that might be considered action, nor is this of the science fiction genre despite those elements present in the movie as well. It fits into its own class of movies, and carves out a place in movie lore for itself and a few other films that transcend traditional genres.
The essence of story telling is the ability for a story to capture and hold onto an audience in a very real and tangible way,yet allow that viewer to make up their own mind on the overarching messages within the story. “The Fountain” does this in spades, and I think deserves to be watched by anyone self-identifying as someone who enjoys stories, but brings with them an open mind and the patience to make up their mind after the end credits cease to roll. It is definitely not as accessible as most of the other movies I mention on this blog, but should they go into a viewing of the movie with the right mindset, they will feel compelled to watch this one over and over again.
This is a must watch. Stop reading and rent/buy/borrow this to get started on your own personal voyage through it, and then watch it again, and again, and again, and learn more and more about yourself in the process.