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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

And Death Shall Have No Dominion


- Jackman as a conquistador

I haven't yet seen the movie, The Fountain, but after hearing, in the trailer (see it below) the line ... Our bodies are prisons for our souls (so Gnostic! :-) ... and reading a bit about it ... the Spanish Inquisition, the Tree of Life, the Fountain of Youth, and the Mayan Xibalba ... I had to write something about it.

The movie stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz and is directed by Darren Aronofsky ...

Aronofsky ... commenced writing an original screenplay entitled The Fountain. The story was written by Aronofsky and Ari Handel and spans over 1000 years in three different time periods. In 2002, days away from the start of filming, lead actor Brad Pitt pulled out over "creative differences" and the film collapsed. Sets were demolished and Aronofsky left for home. He subsequently rewrote the film from a $75 million epic to a $30 million film. In 2005, The Fountain was resurrected with new stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, Aronofsky's wife. ...

The New York Times review is mixed ... it compares the story to both a comic book (btw, there's also a graphic novel of the movie) and the work of Jorge Luis Borges, and it names banal a theme the movie shares with a Dylan Thomas poem ... Though lovers be lost love shall not; And death shall have no dominion.

Here's some of the Times' review ...

In “The Fountain,” Darren Aronofsky’s third feature (after “Pi” and “Requiem for a Dream”), Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz play star-crossed lovers in three different eras. Back in the 16th century, Ms. Weisz is Queen Isabel, a glowingly beautiful monarch menaced by the cruel intolerance of the Spanish Inquisition. (I know, I didn’t suspect it either.) Mr. Jackman is Tomas, a conquistador of sad countenance and unruly beard, hacking his way through the Central American jungles in search of the Tree of Life and in the service of his queen.

In the present, Mr. Jackman is a clean-shaven research scientist named Tom Creo, obsessively trying to develop a cure for the disease that threatens the life of his glowingly beautiful wife, Izzi (Ms. Weisz). Five hundred years in the future, Tom’s head is completely bald, and he floats through the air. Ms. Weisz, if I’m not mistaken, has turned into a tree ....

Tom Creo (the last name means “I believe” in Spanish) rages in the lab, bullying his subordinates and exasperating his supervisor (Ellen Burstyn) with his insistence on going after the secret of immortality rather than a mere cure for disease. Izzi, meanwhile, may have unlocked the secret herself, in a manuscript she has been working on (by hand, on old-fashioned folio pages) called “The Fountain.” “Finish it,” she says to Tom.

She also tells him about Xibalba, the Mayan afterlife, a swirling vortex where all distinctions of present and past seem to vanish. Xibalba, which is also the name of a distant nebula in the movie, is connected to that tree, which is, according to the movie’s dream logic, both a metaphor and an actual organism. (It is also, a bit misleadingly, the source of the film’s title: fountain of youth, tree of life — same thing, really). It is where superstition and science meet, and where the truth of ancient religion is affirmed by the methods of modern science ....

“The Fountain” leaves a tantalizing sense of puzzlement in its wake .... its techniques run too far beyond its ideas, which are blurry and banal, rather than mysterious and resonant. “The Fountain” is something to see, but it is also much less, finally, than meets the eye.


Here's the YouTube trailer ...



The Fountain contains some interesting ideas ... are our bodies just prisons for our souls ... does love survive death ... what would it mean, not just physically but also spiritually, to be immortal ... all these questions have very different answers, depending on your religious views or lack thereof - though the movie may not answer them well, at least it raised them.


- Weisz as Queen Isabel


2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My friend/ colleague Kevin wrote a review of it:
http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/004354.html#004354

In the meantime, the new Bond film really is good...

7:23 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Liam,

I read what your friend wrote - a good review :-). It sounds like I'll like the movie. I'm less hopeful about James Bond ... I miss Timothy Dalton.

8:05 PM  

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