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3.6 out of 5 stars
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 5 June 2007
There were as many detractors as those appluading this film on it's release, but you can't please everyone. This film is cut from an entirely different cloth than most of the Hollywood dross out there these days, and shows a certain level of forward thinking from Warners to stick by Aronofsky and his vision for the film. What we get is a tight, well acted piece of filmaking which literally glows and radiates an intense passion throughout the 90min screentime. It may be too open ended for most cineplex viewers, requiring a leap of imagination to absorb the tryptich of narrative as the film jumps between 3 timelines: Past, Present, Future, but for those of us prepared to invest something into the experience( and leave all that 21st century cynicism/ negativity at the door) you'll be rewarded with a beautiful, emotive, intelligent film that leaves you wanting more.

Everyone will have their own take on what the film actually means, and where and when the final timeline actually takes place? but that is the beauty of this film, it makes you think, about yourself, your loved ones and our place in the universe. If only more films did this the world could be a better place.
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on 9 June 2007
After a long wait, complete with the projects being stopped in its tracks once already, The Fountain finally reached our screens to an occasionally perplexed and/or apathetic audience on one hand, on the other to an audience that it struck an emotional chord with.

I fall into the latter, if you hadn't guessed.

This was always going to be Darren Aronofsky's difficult third movie following the mind-melting Pi and the emotional assault & battery of Requiem for a Dream, but he pulls it off with an intimate, heartbreaking story that happens to span 1000 years, only it doesn't once you think about it.

The three narrative threads (Tommy in the modern day, Tomas the Conquistador, and Tom the spaceman) may appear to jar, but they all fit into the story - not the story of the film, but the book that Tommy's dying wife Izzy is writing as her brain tumour threatens to overcome her once and for all.

The Fountain has an air of sadness that seeps from the screen: the repeated motif of Izzy asking Tommy to take a walk with her in the snow plays time and again, and takes on sadder connotations every time, while the Tommy/Tomas/Tom character(s) all face an impossible task in trying to prevent natural following it's inevitable course towards death, and how man is unable to prevent the people he loves succumbing to fate. One scene sees Tommy completely numb by bad news, walking down a street and unable to take in what's going on around him (passers-by, traffic, construction works) and we don't hear a thing until he's almost hit by a car.

As always, Aronofsky can create stunning images on screen, and as always accompanied by Clint Mansell's intimate, stripped-back score that enhances the events and the feeling of loss that is preparing to come to the fore upon all three variations of Hugh Jackman's lead character. Indeed, even when he succeeds, it ends up hurting him as he just prolonged the inevitable until it could hurt him once more.

It may not be a Friday night popcorn movie by any means, but it is a one of the finest pieces of filmmaking of recent years, and more proof that Darren Aronofsky is an underrated director that is capable of creating cinematic genius out of the meanest of circumstances, and is a film that you should see.
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Darren Aronofsky has never made movies that were easy viewing. Examples? Just watch "Pi" and "Requiem For a Dream," and you'll see why this underrated director has made one of the most astounding sci-fi movies in ages.

"The Fountain" is basically a sprawling tale that is half "real," half outside the mind -- love, immortality, death, grief and a tangled plotline that may take a few viewings to get right, but is exquisite in its simplicity. Not satisfied with depth, Aronofsky also makes it an absolutely stunning visual experience.

Research oncologist Tommy (Hugh Jackman) is trying to find a cancer cure by animal testing, so he can save the life of his dying wife Izzie (Rachel Weisz), including an unsanctioned test from a mysterious tree. As she hopes for a cure, Izzie has been writing a book about a Spanish conquistador who is seeking the immortality-granting Tree of Life.

As we see in other flashbacks, that conquistador is a version of Tommy (and Izzy as Queen Isabella). And far in the future, Tommy still struggles with his wife's loss, as he travels to a distant nebula to revive the tree. But as he finally gives in to his wife's last wish, he becomes enmeshed in a mysterious rebirth that stretches through the ages.

"The Fountain" got a royal whupping from critics, and was even booed by test audiences, who presumably couldn't understand the three storylines -- or rather, one non-linear storyline, in which the lines between reality and imagination are blurred. Perhaps all of it is true, or perhaps Tommy's mind is creating the 1500 and 2500 scenarios to help him cope.

As befits a movie that tackles so many deep themes, Aronofsky weaves mythology, creation beliefs, religion and the fear of death together, and binds it together with the universal theme -- love that even death can't overcome. The dialogue tends to be more spare than the story, rather than loading it down with unnecessary ponderings.

And he does it beautifully and surreally. The whole movie is tinged in gold -- gold light, gold costumes, gold Tree of Life, gold nebula, gold deserts. The camerawork is filmed poetry: there are sweet moments like planting a seed in a grave, the Tree lit by the sun, and the sight of Tommy inside the nebula. The most exquisite moment comes when Tommy kneels before Izzy, under the Tree, with drops of golden light falling around them.

This is undoubtedly Jackman's best movie, making us feel Tom's love and sorrow for Izzy ("There's no hope for us here. There is only death"), and the lifelong struggle against death. Your heart really breaks for him. Weisz is sweet and wilting as Izzy, and the chemistry between the two leads makes their time-busting love seem entirely reasonable.

Aronofsky has made a story that is pure art, exquisite in theme, and while you might have to watch "Fountain" a few times to really "get it," but you won't regret the experience. Even if you don't like it, in an era of bland popcorn movies, its ambition is worth praising.
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on 25 October 2008
Spanning over 3 time periods, the Fountain follows the life of Tom (Hugh Jackman) a Spanish Conquistador, a Doctor trying to cure Cancer, and a lone spaceman guarding the Tree of Life.
As the Inquisator is bringing Spain to its knees, Tomas is sent by the queen to find the Tree of Life, hidden somewhere in South America, with only a few good soldiers and a wise priest, he must brave the Mayan Civilisation to reach his goal.
Whilst trying to cure cancer, Tommy's wife Izzy is slowly dying of a Brain Tumor. In her last few days, she gives Tommy a book she has been writing, and the book is called 'The Fountain'.
And in the future, Tom has the sole purpose of guarding the dying Tree of Life. He needs to rekindle its life by sending it into a new star that is being born inside a dying star.

Everyone will have a different opinion, but I can guarentee one thing, you'll be talking about it for days. If it is trying to understand it, praising it, or spreading the word of how incredibly annoying and confusing it was, you won't easily forget it.
For me, this shows the sign of a good show. Darren Aronofsky has done the ever difficult, third film in a career, wonderfully and Clint Mansell has done nothing wrong in the the dramtic and inspiring music to go with it.
Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz are superb and you can tell they enjoyed doing it. The special affects are amazing (inside the dying star) and both the past and present stories fit together perfectly.
The idea of a dagger being the key to a lost Mayan Temple is clever and is a different twist.
An enjoyable film to watch, but as a warning, if you like films were the bad guy does something wrong and the good guy fixes it by shooting everyone he sees, this is not the film for you.
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on 3 February 2008
Certainly this film lacks the itchy paranoia of Pi or the hallucinatory / visceral power of Requiem for a Dream. The triptych of stories doesn't always mesh together and accusations of pretension are pretty difficult to deflect. Yet The Fountain contains much to recommend it, not least the sensuous photography that beautifully captures some startling images. But what really works is the relationship between the two leads. There's a real chemistry between Jackman and Weisz that adds an emotional depth to the film that is lacking in Aronofsky's previous outings.

One of those films that will intrigue some, enrapture a few but bewilder many. Worth watching because you may be one of those it enraptures.
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on 7 April 2008
This Film is absolutely stunning, and extremely profound on the concept of human mortality and the nature of impermanence.
Visually, especially in Hi-Def it looks gorgeous, and the story reaches levels of profundity on par with films like donni darko and the Matrix.
You are left at the end of it all feeling like you've awoken from an awe inspiring dream, or a psychedelic trip, as the film seems to lack a conventional paradigm.
The story its self revolves around the Mayan and biblical tree of life, and encompasses three era's past, present and future.
The past story revolves around a Spanish conquistador named Thomas,(played by Hugh Jackman) who is sent on a journey to Maya by the Spanish Queen (ratchel weisz) to discover the fabled tree of life.
The story reminded me of the film Excalibur, when Arthur's Knights are sent on the quest for the holy grail.
The Present day romance is centred around Neurologist Tommy Creo and his Wife, author Izzy Creo who is dyeing from a brain tumour.
Tommy's work is totally focused on curing brain tumour's, as he fights for a way to save his wife's life.
The third story is set in the future in a sphere glass like spaceship which circumvents the tree of life, and what appears to be a Buddhist style monk. The monk is journeying through space to take the tree of life to a dying nebula in order to save it.
What makes this film unique is that it is more like a fine work of art, or an inspiring and profound piece of poetry, in the way that it does not
tell the viewer what to think, but instead actually requires you to make up your own mind on what the film actually means.
This film will mean something different to almost every single person that views it, which in a time of brain dead Hollywood blockbusters is something very special indeed.
Interestingly When I first watched this film I was in the middle of reading a chapter in a book written by the Dalai Lama. The chapter is called 'Awareness of death', and talks about that in order for us to live we must first accept death. For it is the one thing that none of us can avoid, yet we spend our whole life either fighting against it, or trying to avoid thinking about it. This means when the time comes we are unprepaired. Unlike izzy in the film who comes to except it, and is unafraid and embraces death knowing that from death springs new life, in a never ending perpetual cycle of impermanence.
So to round it off if you are looking for a film which offers something new and will get you pondering the deeper meaning of life, then this flim is for you. On the other hand if you are looking for a Sunday afternoon
no-brainer, steer clear and rent transformers, which should provide exactly what your looking for.
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It is unfortunately rare these days in the finance driven world of Hollywood, that movies so original, so different, so kaleidoscopic and beautiful arrive on our screens. Making a film like The Fountain takes vision, passion, and a desire to be artistic above that of the desire to make a blockbuster hit, for this is surely a movie that won't be understood or appreciated by the majority.

However, imagination left director/screenwriter Darren Aronofsky when he named his film. The definite article is over-used in movie titles, and this may sound like a nitpick, but it is a regrettable truth that films are remembered foremostly by their name, and this one belies the originality it contains within. Do not be put off by the title, this is one of the most original movies you will ever see. The Brazilian name Fonte da Vida (Fountain of Life) better suits, I think.

Out of 2006 also came Pan's Labyrinth, from which can be drawn parallels in its originality, dreamlike cinematography, and intricately weaving plots. However, unlike Pan's Labyrinth, there were no moments in this movie that I felt were poorly conceived, or poorly executed. The Fountain is a masterclass in the art of film-making, and will stand up in its own right for years to come. It's as stunning as the best Kubrick film, and I think a better screenplay than Kubrick could ever write, and at 92 minutes running time is mercifully shorter. This is the right length for a movie. Is Aronofsky a reincarnation of Kubrick, but with a much heightened degree of good sense?

The story is marketed as a science fiction tale spanning more than a thousand years. However, there really is no science in it. This is not a movie that fans of Star Trek or Star Wars, or those films typical of the sci-fi genre, will naturally relate to. This is a more humanistic and spiritual tale; a love story, a tragedy, an awakening.

Hugh Jackman has a chance to show off his tremendous theatrical training, by taking the lead as a man so determined to save the life of his wife Izzi (the best Rachel Weisz performance I have seen yet), that his work, and his fear of death, is dominating his life. Jackman pulls this performance off flawlessly, despite the sometimes mind-bending visuals and plotline, his character is always totally convincing. Weisz successfully portrays a character with remarkable substance and dignity, who has accepted her fate and is ready to embrace it with open arms. She is inspirational.

Ellen Burstyn also deserves a special mention, recruited again after Aronofsky's last outing - Requiem for a Dream - although her role is small in this film, it is vital, and she brings with her a touch of magic; culminating in one of the most perfect examples of private humanity I believe I have ever witnessed on the screen.

In the hands of some directors, The Fountain would have become a slushy, over-sentimental, superficial and spiritually barren movie. But in the hands of Aronofsky, it is a masterpiece.
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on 7 June 2009
There is a rudimentary story to 'Fountain' but no real plot. The action, instead, is built around a theme. The film asks: as human beings, how do we come to terms with the death of a loved one?

There is, of course, no cure for death. We deny it and fight against it but in the end we have no choice: we have to find some way to accept it. And that, for most of us, can't be done rationally. The emotions involved and the sense of dislocation are just too big for the rational mind to cope with. Acceptance, however painful, has to achieved through metaphor or symbolism.

This is what Fountain does. Through a train of often gorgeous and fantastic images it explores the way human beings come to terms with the inevitable. Realism in film, or in any medium, is incapable of exploring psychological subjects like this in any depth. Writers and film-makers have always turned to symbolism when dealing with this kind of material.

The film locates the action in three different time frames: one past; one present; and one future - or perhaps this last belongs to a purely symbolic or psychological realm: it's hard to say and is of no importance anyway. Each of the three time-frames tells a fragment of the 'story' and connects to the others through a set of interlocking ideas which constantly deepen in meaning and in emotional power. Together, they create a sense of the universaility of death.

The part of the story which is set in the past is told dramatically. The part set in the present is told realistically. The futuristic sections belong to the realm of pure fantasy. In all three parts the two lovers struggle to cope with her death - she fatalistically and with a belief in rebirth; he, frantically believing death to be final. At no point is the action given much context, and that helps to intensify the film's focus on death itself - its real subject. Through its imagery, Fountain solves the problem it sets for itself, and it does it in a way that is deeply and recognisably human.

If you like a strong plot line or demand realism in a film then I suspect that Fountain is not going to appeal. If, on the other hand, like me, you enjoy a film that achieves its meaning symbolically, and in particular, if you have ever had to go through the emotions that it deals with, then you may find this a very powerful and perhaps recognisable piece of work. At the very least it is moving - the present-time sections directly so - the others, which are told at varying emotional distances, are more poignant or reflective, but always painful.

The camera work is often stunning, the special effects often beautfully wrought, and the sound track is haunting. The acting is generally excellent although there are one or two moments, unfortunately, when it becomes a little trite. While the contemprorary and futuristic scenes are absorbing, some of the historical ones are less succesful. Having said that, they are beautiful, and they don't descend to cliche.
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VINE VOICEon 30 October 2013
This is probably the most difficult film to review. The Fountain isn't going to sound like much if I give you just a brief plot synopsis. But I'll give it a go. Tom Creo, a brilliant Doctor, is searching for a cure for cancer. His wife Izzy is dying and his research on monkeys only seems to mysteriously reverse the aging process. The secret ingredient to his new medicine is taken from a magic tree in South America, - the tree of life, or the fountain of youth, whatever you want to call it. As Izzy slips away, Tom becomes intrigued with her unfinished novel The Fountain. It turns out that the novel is about Tom and Izzy's past lives as a Spanish Queen and Captain in South America hundreds of years ago. And the only way Tom can finish the book is if he stays around for the future, when he can literally take the long-dead Izzy into the heavens.

Phew! That sounds disconcertingly strange, but trust me it's an amazing experience. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz are brilliant, delivering multi-layered performances. The dialogue avoids soap opera clichés of dying young and instead is filled with many philosophic double meanings and a lot of undeclared emotions. I could go on for ages about how good it all is from the direction, gorgeous cinematography, beautiful score, flawless storytelling etc. But I think you get the point already.

What The Fountain mostly resembles is the most beautiful, otherworldly dream you've ever had but can barely remember. It's a hypnotic movie filled with moments that will stay with you forever. Just when you think the film has given you all that it has to offer it surprises you with more and more amazing revelations. It also works as a sort of flipside to Cloud Atlas, giving a smaller, more personal take on the human soul and the connections we share for eternity.

Smaller, but no less epic. The Fountain is unique, hypnotic experience.

The Blu-ray is in 1.85:1 1080p which presents the beautiful cinematography perfectly. It was one of the first movies to be released in the format, so the transfer may look a little dated, but it's still wonderful to look at. The DTS HD-MA sound should be cranked up loud for maximum effect. Trust me, you'll love it. There are a decent amount of extras too.
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on 22 May 2007
The title to this short review pretty much sums up my views on this superb film - however, I'd also like to add:

Superb script, great acting, beautiful direction, excellent special f/x ........ and so on.

Rarely has a film involved and moved me so much - it just worked so very, very well. I don't like answers gift-wrapped and this film leaves a lot to the imagination and also leaves plenty for the viewer to think on well after the initial viewing.

It's also a film that can be watched time and time again, each time picking up new information and perhaps even changing the viewers' perceptions.

A superb experience. Try it or live in ignorance.
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