Column article, Film, Film Review, Magazine article

The Fountain: Of Love, Life, Death and Immortality



Looking for something to watch that is out of the ordinary? Something fantastic, something surreal and something romantic? A film with handsome and beautiful stars who can act? A film that can encourage you to ponder upon life’s mystery? Aronofsky’s cult film The Fountain could be just the film you are looking for.

The Fountain (2006) is the story of a couple of souls in three incarnations. Tomas is a Spanish conquistador who is chosen by the Spanish queen, Isabela, to look for the biblical Tree of Life somewhere in Mayan territory in Central America. In his present incarnation, Tommy is a medical doctor (oncologist) in the US trying to find a cure for the tumor that is killing his wife, Izzi. In the future, Tom is an astronaut circa 25th century. He lives beside a magical tree in a space bubble and is constantly disturbed by visions of a woman, presumably his wife.

Or, this is a story of Tommy, an oncologist, in search for a cure for his wife Izzi’s illness. Izzi writes a book titled The Fountain about a conquistador chosen by the Spanish queen, Isabela, to look for the biblical Tree of Life somewhere in Mayan territory. Because of the stress of the fear of losing his beloved wife and his untiring efforts to find a cure, Tommy hallucinates and sees himself as an astronaut circa 25th century meditating beside a magical tree (like Gautama Buddha) in a space bubble and is constantly disturbed by visions of his wife.


Hugh Jackman proves once again that he is one of today’s better actors. Whether as a Spanish conquistador or a medical doctor or a yogi spaceman, Hugh Jackman performs with great intensity.

Jackman’s counterpoint is Rachel Weisz, who also portrays three characters – the regal Queen Isabela, the sweet and dying Izzi and the ephemeral visitor of the spaceman Tom.


While the actors’ performances are great, the story is quite complicated. After all, it is directed by Darren Aronofsky, the Harvard-educated filmmaker who loves psychological drama in his films.  The Special Effects are the film’s anchor. But instead of ordinary computer graphics, The Fountain used special effects in its photography, creating mystical landscapes and emotion-filled images. Although The Fountain is marketed as a science fiction film, its images are more fantastic than scientific.

The Fountain proves that films are more visual than verbal. The average person might throw out the script of The Fountain for being too complicated. But the average person can easily appreciate watching on the big screen a 25th century Buddha levitating and meditating beside the Tree of Life inside a space bubble.


The Fountain is basically a love story that spans a thousand years — from 1500 to the present to 2500. From a conquistador searching for the Fountain of Youth for his Queen who might lose her kingdom to an oncologist fighting a tumor to save his wife to David Bowie’s Major Tom telling Ground Control, while “floating ’round his tin can”, to tell his wife he loves her very much.

Aronofsky said in a 2012 interview that “ultimately the film is about coming to terms with your own death”, with love as the driving force. During the filming of The Fountain, the lovely couple Aronofsky and Weisz  were in the middle of a 10-year romance. When the film was released in 2006, many critics did not like it. But it has since grown a cult following.

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From  Mr. & Ms. Magazine Supermonthly of the Body, Mind and Spirit, Mar. 2007

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