Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Fountain (2006)

Note: This review was originally posted on Bridge To Better Days. I am reposting it here for archival purposes. It has been backdated to the date of its original posting.

The Fountain was among the DVDs I got for Christmas. I remember noticing it when it originally came out. It looked interesting, but I didn't get around to seeing it. Well, now I have. I have to admit, it was a fascinating movie, although it went in a bit of a different direction than I was hoping. I guess you could say I was expecting more fantasy and less drama. But it was still a great tale. With lots to interpret.

I guess the core of the story is what takes place in present time. A doctor on the verge of discovering a medicinal elixir of life, extracted from a tree in Central America, is racing against time while the love of his life is dying of cancer. She in turn is writing a story about the Tree of Life, related to Spanish/Mayan history. Part of that mythology involves the Mayan underworld, named after a dying star observed in the heavens. A star that the main character is traveling toward, in a bubble-like spaceship with a dying tree, presumably far into the future. These three timelines tradeoff as the story unfolds, leaving you to guess just exactly how they fit together.

I guess one interpretation would be that the past scenes are merely an embodiment of the story, and the future scenes part of the doctor's madness - leaving us with just the present. But, if we want to be a little more adventurous, we could conjecture that the doctor does in reality discover the secret to immortality and that the future scenes actually happen as is. But is there an interpretation where the past scenes could be real as well? Because that's what I was hoping for - a tale about two lovers who exist through many ages, from the past through the present and on to the future. But considering what happens when the conquistador in the past finds the Tree of Life, it doesn't seem too reasonable.

Still, the beauty of the story is the sheer imagination of it and the way it was filmed, and how the different timelines interact with one another to create a rich tapestry of storytelling. That, and the question of immortality that is inevitably brought up. Is death just a disease, that needs to be cured? Or is death the road to awe? It's a tough question that's been asked as long as man has been around, I imagine. And I don't think the answer is as easy as some people pretend. Life and death both serve a purpose, and neither one is purely good, or bad. I don't think there is an ultimate answer as to whether or not death should have a place in life. But it does have that place, and there is very little we can do about it - and this fact, I believe, will continue to inspire people to fight against it. You have to be careful, though - there is a balance to be found between vying for eternal life and accepting the simple fact of death. If we get too caught up on living forever, we make death all the harder to bear. And I think that's one of the messages that The Fountain carries - the need to accept death.

No comments:

Post a Comment