The Fountain - saturday 2007-05-26 1317 last modified 2007-05-27 2314
Categories: Film
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The Fountain uses a narrative form spanning a thousand years to highlight our human tendency to avoid pain in the form of truth: the truth wrapped up in myths and legends, the truth of our emotions and relationships. The conquistador, the scientist, the astronaut; the initial question over which story is actually taking place, which is a fictional extraction or dream, is, by the end of the film, no longer relevant.

In the past, the conquistador seeks to escape a grisly politicized death at the hands of a ubiquitous inquisition, relying on a confluence of myths supposedly guaranteeing life eternal, only to find he and his queen have missed the truth of these myths by being enticed into seeking out their component fancies. The conquistador is conquered by his quest: no man is to return to the Tree of Life. The Mayan world tree ends in the world of the dead. Paradise cannot be reclaimed through the sap of a lost artifact.

In the present, the scientist seeks to find a way out for his wife who is slowly dying of an inoperable, inexorable brain tumor. The reckless pursuit of a pharmacological breakthrough shields him from medical inevitability, blinding him to dealing with himself. He seeks distraction at every turn. In spite of a deep and full possession of biological facts, even the ability to formulate a total cure based on his scientific research, the good doctor is lost to himself and to his wife; while she leaves prepared for death, he is inconsolably unprepared for the loss.

In the future, the astronaut, fixated on one long-passed moment in time, is an extrapolation of the scientist's scenario into a cleverly conceived future potential where truth, though it take five hundred years, finally catches up with a tortured soul. Tormented for centuries by the memory of loss, he can finally see a better choice for his past: to have spent the last days of marriage in the company of his beloved, to have mourned and said farewell, to face the reality of death instead of being arrested in a perpetual state of fear over it.

Tommy's great lesson in truth is to face it fully in all its forms, especially where they concern life and death and living. Kudos to Aronofsky for making a film experience, with many other layers open for interpretation, that just so happens to be sci-fi.

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