The Fountain


The Fountain

Infobox Film
name = The Fountain


caption = "The Fountain" theatrical poster
director = Darren Aronofsky
producer = Arnon Milchan
Eric Watson
Iain Smith
writer = Story:
Darren Aronofsky
Ari Handel
Screenplay:
Darren Aronofsky
starring = Hugh Jackman
Rachel Weisz
Ellen Burstyn
music = Clint Mansell
cinematography = Matthew Libatique
distributor = Warner Bros. (USA)
20th Century Fox (worldwide)
released = November 22, 2006
runtime = 96 min.
country = United States
awards =
language = English
budget = $35,000,000
gross = $15,845,981
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website = http://www.fountainmovie.com/
amg_id = 1:312594
imdb_id = 0414993

"The Fountain" is a 2006 American science fiction/fantasy film directed by Darren Aronofsky that follows three interwoven narratives that take place in the age of conquistadors, the modern-day period, and the far future. The film stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, whose characters' romance exists in all three time periods. "The Fountain" explores the themes of love and mortality, drawing influences from the The Fountain of Youth and The Tree of Life. The film is framed with visual language by using transition scenes, light, and shapes.

Originally to be filmed in 2002 on a budget of $70 million with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in the lead, "The Fountain" shut down production as a result of Pitt's departure. Aronofsky was able to resurrect the project in 2005 with half the budget. The director incorporated visual effects into "The Fountain" by using minimal computer-generated imagery; he reduced the use of computers by using inexpensive footage provided by a macro-photographer. "The Fountain" was commercially released in the United States on November 22, 2006, to divided reviews.

Plot

"The Fountain" takes place in three interweaving narratives that encompass the age of the Spanish conquistadors, the near-future period and a journey through deep space in an ecospheric starship.

The scientist

Research oncologist Tommy Creo (Hugh Jackman) attempts to reverse brain tumors in rhesus monkeys through animal testing. His work is motivated by his cancer-stricken wife Izzi (Rachel Weisz). When the tests fail on a monkey named Donovan, Tommy is inspired to break medical protocol and use an untested compound derived from a Guatemalan tree. At first, the drug fails to stop the tumor's growth, but surprisingly rejuvenates Donovan, healing his wounds and improving his cognitive abilities.

At home, Izzi points out a golden nebula to Tommy, describing it as Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. She also shows Tommy a book she is writing, set in the age of conquistadors, titled "The Fountain". When she goes to sleep, Tommy reads the book and falls asleep as well. When he wakes up, he finds that Izzi has gone to the museum. He meets her there, and she explains the creation myth of the Mayans. She suddenly collapses from a seizure and is rushed to the hospital. She tells Tommy, at her bedside, that she no longer fears death. Tommy does not accept this and returns to his lab, working harder to find a cure for Izzi's brain tumor.

During a visit, Izzi goes into cardiac arrest, and Tommy is forced by medical staff to leave the room. Tommy's associate Dr. Lillian Guzetti (Ellen Burstyn) finds him in the hall and tells him that Donovan's tumor is shrinking. Tommy rushes back into Izzi's room with the news, only to find that his wife cannot be resuscitated. At Izzi's funeral, Tommy tells Guzetti, "Death is a disease, it's like any other. And there is a cure. A cure. And I will find it."

The conquistador

In 16th century Spain, Grand Inquisitor Silecio (Stephen McHattie) demonizes the Spanish Queen Isabella (Weisz) as a heretic. He slowly acquires territories as part of his plan to take Spain from her, killing her followers along the way. Tomas (Jackman), a conquistador in the service of Isabella, plots to assassinate Silecio, only to be stopped by a subordinate, Captain Ariel (Cliff Curtis), bearing an urgent message from the Queen. Returning to Isabella's court, Tomas is given the mission of finding the Tree of Life. The tree's location is revealed on a hidden map displayed by a Mayan dagger stolen by Father Avila (Mark Margolis), whose Franciscan order backs the Queen.

Tomas journeys to the New World with Avila and fellow conquistadors to find the tree. As the search drags on and the hardships of the quest multiply, the men mutiny; Tomas restores order by killing the ringleaders as Avila reveals that they have arrived at their destination. As Tomas approaches the pyramid atop which the tree grows, Mayan warriors attack the conquistadors. Tomas's last two men are killed fleeing the battle. Tomas is spared by the warriors, who force him to climb the pyramid. When Tomas reaches the temple at the top, he is stabbed in the abdomen by a Mayan priest.

The astronaut

The astronaut, Tom (Jackman), travels toward a golden nebula in an ecospheric spacecraft, which also houses a living tree. Tom meditates in padmasana and practices tai chi. Kept young by compounds he produces from the tree's sap, Tom is haunted by visions of Izzi. He focuses on reaching the nebula, repeatedly assuring the tree that it will be reborn on arrival despite the amount of sap he has taken from it. Despite his assurance, the tree dies, leaving Tom to ponder the hundreds of years of travel that have been all to see Izzi again. Izzi haunts Tom in a vision and encourages him to finish writing her book, "The Fountain". Tom faces his fear of death and accepts dying, allowing him to finally write the book's ending.

Resolution

Instead of killing Tomas, a Mayan priest identifies Tomas as First Father, the deity who sacrificed himself to create the world. The Mayan priest in turn presents himself as a sacrifice, and Tomas hesitatingly slits his throat. Passing through a doorway, the conquistador finds the Tree of Life in a garden atop the pyramid. As he pierces it with the stolen Mayan dagger, its sap spills onto the ground, and a small plant instantly grows and blossoms where it fell. Taking this as a sign of rejuvenation, Tomas applies some sap to his abdominal wound, healing himself. He then greedily drinks the sap, stopping only when he begins to see Xibalba appear above him. His victory is cut short however, as he collapses in pain, leaves and flowers bursting from his body, burying him. The future Tom is then shown passing into the heart of the nebula, wearing a ring given to Tomas by the Queen of Spain, and entering Xibalba at peace with the thought of his imminent death. As Xibalba collapses and supernovas Tom's body is scattered into the dead tree rejuvenating it. In the present day Tommy is seen planting a tree seed over Izzi's grave doing his best to accept his wife's death.

Development

In 1999, Darren Aronofsky and actor Jared Leto saw "The Matrix" together. Aronofsky said he had mused after seeing the film, "What kind of science fiction movie can people make now?" Aronofsky began to consider new ideas for a science fiction film with his friend from college, Ari Handel.cite news | author=Steve Silberman | url=http://wired.com/wired/archive/14.11/outsider_pr.html | title=The Outsider | publisher=Wired News | date=2006-11-01 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ] In April 2001, Aronofsky entered negotiations with Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow to direct an untitled sci-fi epic with actor Brad Pitt in the lead role.cite news | author=Brian Linder | url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/050/050987p1.html | title=Aronofsky, Pitt Team for Sci-Fi Epic | publisher=IGN | date=2001-04-05 | accessdate=2006-11-01 ] Aronofsky's previous film, "Requiem for a Dream", had been screened for Pitt, and the preliminary script for "The Fountain" persuaded the actor to join the project.cite news | author=Daniel Fierman | url=http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1557390,00.html | title=From Here to Eternity | publisher=Entertainment Weekly | date=2006-12-01 | accessdate=2007-02-18 ] Aronofsky had been writing the film with Handel. The director said the film would explore new territory similar to how "Star Wars", "", and "The Matrix" had redefined the genre. Aronofsky wanted to go beyond typical science fiction films that were plot-driven by technology and science. "We've seen it all. It's not really interesting to audiences anymore. The interesting things are the ideas; the search for God, the search for meaning," said Aronofsky. The director said that the film would be "the most ambitious thing I've done to date and the biggest challenge".Aronofsky was influenced by the accounts of Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano, who wrote examples of myth from an indigenous perspective, [cite news | author=Andrew Wright | url=http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=110172 | title=Long Strange Trip | publisher=The Stranger | date=2006-11-22 | accessdate=2007-02-17 ] particularly Galeano's "Genesis" trilogy. The film "Once Upon a Time in America" also served as an influence in Aronofsky's writing of "The Fountain". [cite news | author=Clint Morris | url=http://www.moviehole.net/news/20070129_ask_a_celeb_darren_aronofskys.html | title=Ask a Celeb : Darren Aronofsky's Answers! | publisher=Moviehole.net | date=2007-01-29 | accessdate=2007-02-17 ] The director traveled with a crew to Central America to consult with Mayan experts like Moises Morales Marquez and to explore the ruins of Palenque. The group also made a visit to Tikal, a jungle location that had been featured in the original "Star Wars". To design a rainforest set, the films "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" and "The Holy Mountain" were screened for the crew for inspiration. In June 2001, actress Cate Blanchett entered talks to join Aronofsky's project. [cite news | author=Brian Linder | url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/300/300933p1.html | title=Blanchett Joining Pitt in Aronofsky's Next | publisher=IGN | date=2001-06-28 | accessdate=2006-11-10 ] Aronofsky, who wanted the film's actual title to be a secret, gave the project the working title of "The Last Man". [cite news | author=Fred Topel | url=http://www.craveonline.com/filmtv/articles/04647134/crave_talks_to_darren_aronofsky.html | title=Crave talks to Darren Aronofsky | publisher=CraveOnline.com | date=2006-11-27 | accessdate=2006-12-18 ] Production was postponed to improve the script and wait for Blanchett, pregnant at the time of signing on board, to give birth to her child that December. The start date for production was tentatively set to begin in summer 2002. [cite news | author=Brian Linder | url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/305/305442p1.html | title=Aronofsky's Sci-Fi Epic Postponed | publisher=IGN|date=2001-08-31 | accessdate=2006-11-10 ]

In June 2002, Warner Bros. met with Aronofsky and producer Eric Watson, expressing concerns over an escalating budget and threatening to cease the project unless a co-financier was found. Watson petitioned independent production companies for support and was able to enlist Regency Enterprises for assistance. Production was ultimately set for late October 2002 in Queensland and Sydney, Australia. The film, officially titled "The Fountain", was greenlit with a budget of $70 million, co-financed by Warner Bros. and New Regency, who had filled the gap after Village Roadshow's withdrawal from the project. This marked the first collaboration between the two companies since Regency switched distribution to 20th Century Fox (who would distribute in most international territories). Actress Ellen Burstyn, who starred in Aronofsky's "Requiem for a Dream", had also been cast alongside Pitt and Blanchett. [cite news | author=Brian Linder | url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/365/365914p1.html | title="Fountain" Flows at Warner Bros. | publisher=IGN | date=2002-07-25 | accessdate=2006-11-10 ] Preparation for production of "The Fountain" cost $18 million.cite news | author=Geoffrey Macnab | url=http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,,1866438,00.html | title='I knew we were going to get attacked ... ' | publisher=Guardian Unlimited | date=2006-09-07 | accessdate=2006-10-08 ] Abruptly, Pitt, whose requested script revisions to the screenplay were not met, left the project seven weeks before the first day of shooting. The actor went on to star as Achilles in director Wolfgang Petersen's "Troy".cite news | author=Brian Linder | url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/370/370982p1.html | title=Brad Pitt: Achilles Heel | publisher=IGN | date=2002-09-13 | accessdate=2006-11-10 ] With the studio threatening to shut down the project, Aronofsky overnighted the script for "The Fountain" to actor Russell Crowe as a potential replacement for Pitt. However, Crowe, worn out from recently completing "", declined the offer. In September 2002, Jeff Robinov, President of Production at Warner Bros. Pictures, announced that "The Fountain" would cease production, with Blanchett receiving compensation for her time and the Australian crew being fired from the halted project. Sets built for the production of the film, including a 10-story Aztec temple, were eventually auctioned off, in addition to props and other items. [cite news | author=Brian Linder | url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/435/435434p1.html | title="The Fountain" Auctioned Off | publisher=IGN|date=2003-08-26 | accessdate=2006-11-10 ] Pitt said that he was disappointed to leave and added, "I remain encouraged that "The Fountain" will yet have its day."

Production

In February 2004, Warner Bros. resurrected Aronofsky's project and began to court actor Hugh Jackman to replace Pitt in the lead role. The film received a second greenlight with a budget of $35 million, in part because of the director's willingness to leave costly set pieces out of the screenplay. [cite news | author=Brian Linder | url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/495/495272p1.html | title="The Fountain" Flows Again | publisher=IGN | date=2004-02-27 | accessdate=2006-11-10 ] In August, actress Rachel Weisz joined Hugh Jackman for the project, filling the vacancy left by Blanchett. "The Fountain" was set to begin production in November 2004. [cite news | author=Brian Linder | url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/536/536252p1.html | title=Weisz Wades Into "Fountain" | publisher=IGN | date=2004-08-05 | accessdate=2006-11-10 ] By March 2005, filming was underway at a sound stage in Montreal,cite news | author=David Carr | url=http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/20/movies/20carr.html?ei=5090&en=beba2fdb11206a06&ex=1268974800&partner=rssuserland&pagewanted=all&position= | title=A Reincarnation Story That Won't Stay Dead | publisher=The New York Times | date=2005-03-20 | accessdate=2006-11-10 ] and lasted for 61 days. The film's locations, with the exception of scenes filmed at a museum and at a farmhouse, were built on the Montreal sound stage. [cite news | author=Edward Douglas | url=http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=17542 | title=Exclusive: Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky | publisher=ComingSoon.net | date=2006-11-17 | accessdate=2006-12-19 ] Aronofsky, influenced by Bernal Díaz del Castillo's "The Conquest of New Spain", applied the narrative in writing the film's conquistador scenes. Seventy extras were cast as Maya warriors, including 20 who were actually Guatemala Mayans, one of them, an actual spiritual leader, was cast as the Maya spiritual leader in the film. To create a death scene, Aronofsky drew from Maya mythology the description of when valiant warriors die, flowers and butterflies emerge from their bodies. Aronofsky excluded butterflies from the death scene to minimize the film's computer-generated imagery but kept the effect of flowers bursting from the body.cite news | author=Peter Sciretta | url=http://www.slashfilm.com/article.php/20061120darreninterview | title=Interview: Darren Aronofsky, director of The Fountain | publisher=/FILM|date=2006-11-20 | accessdate= 2006-11-28 ]

In "The Fountain", the Tree of Life was a central design and part of the film's three periods. The tree was based on Kabbalah's Sefirot, which depicts a "map" of creation to understand the nature of God and how he created the world ex nihilo (out of nothing). The Sefirot Tree, being two to three hundred feet tall in lore, had to be resized for "The Fountain" to fit in the camera's frame.cite news | author=Peter Sciretta | url=http://www.slashfilm.com/article.php/20061120darreninterview | title=Interview: Darren Aronofsky, director of The Fountain | publisher=/FILM | date=2006-11-20 | accessdate= 2006-11-28 ] Pieces of driftwood and pieces from real trees in Canada were collected for the tree's branches and roots, and sculpted molds of the pieces were applied to a steel frame to create the tree's body. [cite news | author=Iain Blair | url=http://www.variety.com/awardcentral_article/VR1117956944.html?nav=news&categoryid=1985&cs=1 | title=Design spotlight: 'The Fountain' | publisher=Variety | date=2007-01-08 | accessdate=2007-02-17 ] According to production designer James Chinlund, the tree, part of an enormous set surrounded by green screens, and other sets presented difficult logistical problems because of the small budget given to the resurrected project. The tree set itself had been a collaboration between Chinlund, Aronofsky, and cinematographer Matthew Libatique to create the appropriate design, particularly the palette in comparison to the biospheric ship that carries the tree in the astronaut period.cite news | author=Jonah Weiland | url=http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=5080 | title=Talking with the Makers of "The Fountain" | publisher=Comic Book Resources | date=2005-04-11 | accessdate=2006-11-10 ] Aronofsky described the astronaut period as a homage to David Bowie's "Space Oddity"; the protagonist's name "Tom" originating from the Major Tom of the popular song. Co-writer Ari Handel researched biospherics, such as the Biosphere 2, to help design the ship that carried the protagonist and the tree through space. With respect to the glass-sphered ship's design, Aronofsky argued, "There is no reason a spaceship would be built like a giant truck in space."cite news | author=Steve Dollar | url=http://www.pastemagazine.com/action/article?article_id=3493 | title=The Fountain of youth... | publisher=Paste|date=2006-11-06 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ]

"The Fountain" originally received an R rating for "Some violence" from the MPAA. The film was edited by Aronofsky and re-rated PG-13 for "Intense sequences of violent action, some sensuality and language". [cite news | author=MPAA | url=http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/news.php?id=4698 | title=Latest MPAA Ratings: #30 | publisher=RopeofSilicon.com|date=2006-11-01 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ]

Casting

Director Darren Aronofsky was originally not familiar with Hugh Jackman until the actor was cast as Wolverine in "X-Men". The director went to see Jackman perform as Peter Allen in the Broadway musical "The Boy from Oz". Impressed with Jackman's performance, Aronofsky met with the actor, who had been looking for "a role that could show a lot of dimension". In addition to Jackman's casting, Aronofsky wrote into the script roles for Ellen Burstyn and Mark Margolis, who had appeared in the director's previous film, "Requiem for a Dream".cite news | author=Daniel Robert Epstein | url=http://suicidegirls.com/interviews/Darren+Aronofsky+-+The+Fountain/ | title=Darren Aronofsky - The Fountain | publisher=SuicideGirls|date=2005-04-01 | accessdate=2006-11-10 ]

Jackman researched and prepared for his role by practicing tai chi. Jackman took 14 months to achieve the lotus position, which is seen in the film. Jackman also watched a woman undergo brain tumor surgery and had been shaken to see the woman have similar blond hair to his wife: "All I could think of was my wife on that table. As much as I'd read the script and theorized and practiced philosophy, I knew in that moment that I was so not ready for death."cite news | author=Johanna Schneller | url=http://www.premiere.com/article.asp?section_id=6&article_id=3060&page_number=1&print_page=y | title=Hugh Jackman: Cover Story | publisher=Empire | date=2006-08-31 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ] The actor portrayed his various characters in "The Fountain" by physically acting differently for each persona. As the conquistador, Jackman was upright and forward-leaning to evoke an unstoppable nature. As the scientist, the actor hunched over with a dedicated focus on his character's work, being weighed down by the "world on his shoulders". As the astronaut, Jackman practiced the state of zen but also exhibited a continued persistence in his endeavour.cite news | author=David Server | url=http://www.countingdown.com/features?feature_id=3917457 | title=CD Exclusive: 'The Fountain' Cast and Crew Q&A! | publisher=CountingDown.com|date=2006-11-17 | accessdate=2006-12-19 ]

Jackman suggested to Darren Aronofsky the possibility of casting Rachel Weisz as his protagonist's wife. The director, being in a relationship with the actress and living with her, had previously hesitated to show the studio signs of favoritism in casting Weisz. With Jackman's earnest recommendation, the actress was cast as Isabel. [cite news | author=Sheila Roberts | url=http://www.moviesonline.ca/movienews_10478.html | title=Hugh Jackman Interview, The Fountain | publisher=MoviesOnline.ca | date=2006-11-17 | accessdate=2006-12-19 ] Weisz prepared for her role by reading books and first-person accounts about people who had terminal illnesses. The actress also went to hospitals to visit young people who were dying and under hospice care. "There were a few days where I was in the headspace where I could say: 'I could go now'," said Weisz. [cite news | url=http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/entertainment/view/228648/1/.html | title="The Fountain" makes a splash at Venice | publisher=Channel NewsAsia|date=2006-09-05 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ]

Visual effects

Jeremy Dawson and Dan Schrecker, who had provided visual effects for Darren Aronofsky's "π" and "Requiem for a Dream", returned to "The Fountain" to help the director with the film's effects. The pair were assigned with the task of creating as little computer-generated imagery as possible, a difficult task with a third of the film taking place in deep space. Aronofsky chose to avoid effects that would make the film look dated in several decades but instead hold up as well as a film like "". Dawson said, "Using CG is really the easy route because it's so prevalent and the tools are great. What it did was really force us to come up with creative solutions to solve a lot of our problems." One creative solution was uncovering Peter Parks, a specialist in macro photography, who had retrieved deep-sea microorganisms and photographed them in 3-D under partial funding from the Bahamas government. Parks brewed chemicals and bacteria together to create reactions of which Schrecker and Dawson shot 20,000 feet worth of film in the course of eight weeks for "The Fountain". To create the effects, Peter Parks had taken advantage of fluid dynamics, which affected the behavior of the substances that he photographed. "When these images are projected on a big screen, you feel like you're looking at infinity. That's because the same forces at work in the water—gravitational effects, settlement, refractive indices—are happening in outer space," Parks said. The specialist's talent convinced the film's creative department to go beyond computer-generated imagery and follow Parks' lead. Instead of millions of dollars for a single special effects sequence, Parks generated all the footage for the film for just $140,000.

However, the effects were not finished there. Intelligent Creatures a Visual Effects, Look Development and Design company specializing in feature films, was approached by Dawson and Schrecker to help them design the overall look and feel of the future scenes. Intelligent Creatures created specific CG futuristic locations that Hugh Jackman's character undertakes through space on a spherical ship. To accomplish this, the team first shot on a 360-degree greenscreen "tree" set in Montreal for the spherical spaceship. They then drew from the library of macro-footage of various liquid chemical reactions, split-apart, warped and displaced these elements to become a series of naturally progressing space backgrounds. There were a multitude of scenes, 234 shots in all, in which these backgrounds were ultimately utilized. Lon Molnar, CEO and Sr. Visual Effects Supervisor at IC, said, "We took Peter Parks's raw macro footage from the petri dish and made it into large multi layered environments giving the scenes an epic, organic quality and a timeless feel". Ultimately, the visual effects took IC's team of 30 artists and technicians a full year to design and execute.

The visual effects company Look Effects worked on 87 shots for "The Fountain" that included major set extensions, digital mattes, image enhancement, face replacement and blemish removal, as well as animating key elements to the film's story. Henrik Fett, the visual effects supervisor of Look Effects, said, "Darren was quite clear on what he wanted and his intent to greatly minimize the use of computer graphics... [and] I think the results are outstanding." [cite news | url=http://www.vfxworld.com/?sa=adv&code=3631a5a1&atype=news&id=18235 | title=Look Effects Does More With Less CG on The Fountain | publisher=VFXWorld|date=2006-10-23 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ]

Musical score

Clint Mansell, the composer for Aronofsky's previous films, "π" and "Requiem for a Dream", reprised his role as composer for "The Fountain". The San Francisco-based string quartet Kronos Quartet, who had previously performed for the "Requiem for a Dream" soundtrack, and Scottish post-rock band Mogwai also contributed to the film score. [cite news | url=http://www.thespacelab.tv/spaceLAB/2006/08August/MusicNews-05-Mogwai.htm | title=Mogwai Contribute to Film Score on Aronofsky Film 'The Fountain' | publisher=Spacelab Music News | date=2006-08-01|accessdate=2006-11-10 ] Darren Aronofsky hoped that David Bowie, whose song "Space Oddity" helped influence the film's astronaut period, would record a "third Tom song" as the musical artist worked briefly with composer Clint Mansell during production. The plan was for Bowie to rework pieces of the score and to vocalize them, but this did not go through.cite news | author= | url=http://www.aintitcool.com/node/30814 | title=ScoreKeeper With FOUNTAIN Composer Clint Mansell!! | publisher=Ain't It Cool News | date=2006-11-27 | accessdate=2007-02-17 ] Instead, Mansell researched possible scores to tie together the three different time periods that spanned "The Fountain". He wanted the overall feel of the score to be organic, and considered implementing orchestral and electronic elements that would have "a real human element to them that breathes". The score was designed concurrently with the film's production instead of during the post-production phase. For the score, Mansell created a mood that flourished as the film progressed. He described the process of composing the music, "It's instinct and listening to what the film is telling you it needs."

Mansell drew from five to six years of writing material for "The Fountain". Initially, the composer intended for the score to be pure percussion when the film was originally meant to be epic in scale. Mansell, lacking classical training, collaborated with an assistant in creating the score. Both had deconstructed the composer's initial pieces for "The Fountain" and re-played them in a key so the lead melodies could harmonically play with every progression. The song "Together We Will Live Forever" was an electronic piece designed by Mansell to serve as the protagonist's memory theme. Lead singer Antony Hegarty was commissioned to create a vocal piece over "Together We Will Live Forever" for the end credits, but the director decided that the vocals would not be appropriate to end the film. The song was instead redone with pianist Randy Kerber.

Nonesuch Records, the home of "The Fountain" musical contributor Kronos Quartet, released the film's musical collaborations between composer Clint Mansell, Kronos Quartet, and Mogwai titled "The Fountain: Music from the Motion Picture" on November 21, 2006. [cite news | author=Amy Phillips | url=http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/news/39125/Stream_The_Fountain_Clips_Ft_Mogwai_Anto | title=Stream: "The Fountain" Clips Ft. Mogwai, Antony | publisher=Pitchfork | date=2006-10-13 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ]

Clint Mansell received a nomination for the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score for "The Fountain", [cite news | url=http://www.hfpa.org/news/id/42 | title=Hollywood Foreign Press Association Announced the Nominations for the 64th Golden Globe Awards | publisher=Hollywood Foreign Press Association | date=2006-12-14 | accessdate=2006-12-14 ] but lost to Alexandre Desplat for "The Painted Veil". [cite web | url=http://www.hfpa.org/nominations/index.html | title=Nominations and Winners | publisher=Hollywood Foreign Press Association | accessdate=2007-01-21 ] Mansell has also received a nomination for the 2006 BFCA Critics' Choice Award for Best Composer, but lost to Phillip Glass for "The Illusionist". [cite web | url=http://www.bfca.org/NomineesWinners.asp | title=Nominees 2006 | publisher=Broadcast Film Critics Association | accessdate=2006-12-14 ] Mansell won the Chicago Film Critics Association's 2006 award for Best Original Score. [cite web | url=http://www.chicagofilmcritics.org/win06.html | title=Winners of the 19th Annual Chicago Film Critics Awards (2006) | publisher=Chicago Film Critics Association | accessdate=2007-01-28 ] He has also won the World Soundtrack Award for Best Original Soundtrack of the Year and Public Choice Award. [cite web | url=http://www.worldsoundtrackawards.com/news.cgi?go=detail&id=64 | title=Winners of the World Soundtrack Awards (2007) | publisher=World Soundtrack Academy | accessdate=2008-02-21 ]

Themes

"The Fountain" begins with a paraphrase of Genesis 3:24, the Biblical passage that reflects the fall of man. Hugh Jackman emphasizes the importance of the fall in the film: "The moment Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge, of good and evil, humans started to experience life as we all experience it now, which is life and death, poor and wealthy, pain and pleasure, good and evil. We live in a world of duality. Husband, wife, we relate everything. And much of our lives are spent not wanting to die, be poor, experience pain. It's what the movie's about." Darren Aronofsky had also interpreted the story of Genesis as the definition of mortality for humanity. He inquired of the fall, "If they had drank from the tree of life [instead of the tree of knowledge] what would have separated them from their maker? So what makes us human is actually death. It's what makes us special."cite news | author=Peter Sciretta | url=http://www.slashfilm.com/article.php/20061121aronofskyinterview2 | title=Interview: Darren Aronofsky, director of The Fountain, Part 2 | publisher=/FILM|date=2006-11-21 | accessdate=2006-12-19 ]

The theme of thanatophobia is described by Aronofsky as a "movement from darkness into light, from black to white", tracing the journey of a man scared of death and moving toward it.cite news | author=Rebecca Murray | url=http://movies.about.com/od/thefountain/a/fountain101906_2.htm | title=Darren Aronofsky Talks About "The Fountain" | publisher=About.com | date=2006-10-20 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ] The theme is highlighted by Aronofsky's use of visual language, such as shooting Jackman's characters in shadows until the story's light-saturated conclusion, while Weisz's characters are awash with light in each period. [cite news | author=Devin Faraci | url=http://www.chud.com/index.php?type=interviews&id=8081 | title=Devin's Exclusive Interview: Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain) | publisher=CHUD.com | date=2006-11-22 | accessdate=2006-11-28 ] Along these lines, Aronofsky made use of the color of gold, as gold was the sought-after treasure of the conquistadors. "When you see gold, it represents materialism and wealth and all these things that distract us from the true journey that we're on," Aronofsky said. The director also used similar geometric constructs in the film to distinguish the three chronological narratives. The 16th century conquistador's tale reflected triangles through pyramids and constellations, the 21st century researcher's period reflected rectangles through doors, windows, and computer screens, and the 26th century contemplative's journey reflected circles and spheres through the spacecraft and stellar bodies. [cite news | url=http://www.aintitcool.com/node/30768 | title=Capone and Darren Aronofsky Discuss THE FOUNTAIN!!!" | publisher=Ain't It Cool News|date=2006-11-20 | accessdate=2006-11-27 ]

Darren Aronofsky emphasized that the narratives in their time periods and their respective convergences were open to interpretation. The director maintained that the film's intricacy and underlying message is "very much like a Rubik's cube, where you can solve it in several different ways, but ultimately there's only one solution at the end". [cite news | url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/23/AR2006112300534.html | title=Director Darren Aronofsky: A 'Fountain' Quest Fulfilled | publisher=Washington Post | date=2006-11-24 | accessdate=2006-11-27 ] Critics have observed recurring, mythological references to themes of enlightenment, redemption, the Hindu concept of cycle of birth and death and moksha, the Biblical Tree of Life,cite news | author=Devin Faraci | url=http://www.chud.com/index.php?type=reviews&id=7133 | title=Review: The Fountain | publisher=CHUD.com | date=2006-07-13 | accessdate=2006-11-28 ] the Buddha, and the world-tree Yggdrasil. [cite news | author=J. Hoberman | url=http://www.villagevoice.com/film/0647,hoberman,75094,20.html | title=Fountain of Shame | publisher=Village Voice | date=2006-11-21 | accessdate=2006-11-28 ] In the same vein, Jackman views the story as a modern myth that helps people to understand the meaning of life, explains the unexplainable, and fosters understanding. "These fables may not make scientific sense, but somehow they explain the world to us," said Jackman. [cite news | url=http://www.theinsideronline.com/celeb/4931/ | title=Hugh's New Movie! | publisher=The Insider|date=2006-11-13 | accessdate=2006-11-13 ] Aronofsky later explained the film has an atheist meaning. "It's about this endless cycle of energy and matter, tracing back to the Big Bang," he said. "We're all just borrowing this matter and energy for a little bit, until it goes back into everything else, and that connects us all." [cite news | author = Corin Douieb | title = Losing Their Religion | publisher = Empire | date = May 2007 | pages = 127]

Journalists Victoria Alexander and Robert Butler theorise that Tommy Creo's storyline is a grief-induced hallucination [cite news | author=Victoria Alexander | url=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/author-3571/reviews.php?rid=1553244&cats=1&genreid=&switches=&letter=&sortby=add_date&page=1 | title=I've taken the same entheogens many times. But I never cried. | publisher=FilmsInReview.com | accessdate=2006-11-28 ] caused by ingesting the bark of the tree. [cite news | author=Robert Butler | url=http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/entertainment/16067889.htm | title=Drifting in Murky Waters | publisher=Kansas City Star | date=2006-11-22 | accessdate=2006-11-28 ] Brian Orndorf describes the visual artifacts of Creo's struggle as "the mental breakdown of a man who is looking for hope in all the wrong places." [cite news | author=Brian Orndorf | url=http://www.collider.com/entertainment/reviews/article.asp/aid/3226/tcid/1 | title=Film Review -- 'The Fountain' | publisher=Collider.com | date=2006-11-21 | accessdate=2006-11-28 ] Strictly fact-based analyses offer the film's central ("real") essence as "the final three days of... two people very believably and relatably in love,", suggesting its abstract and futuristic elements to be non-literal representations akin to "astral projection" [cite news | author=J. Hoberman | url=http://www.villagevoice.com/film/0647,hoberman,75094,20.html | title=Fountain of Shame | publisher=Village Voice | date=2006-11-21 | accessdate=2006-11-28 ] or "the psychology of survivor's guilt." [cite news | url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/23/AR2006112300534.html | title=Director Darren Aronofsky: A 'Fountain' Quest Fulfilled | publisher=Washington Post|date=2006-11-24 | accessdate=2006-11-27 ] A subset of reviewers (Anderson, Brussat) take the Tom-present, Tom-future and Izzy-tree comparisons more directly, asserting that Creo's wife has transformed into [cite news | author=Jeffrey M. Anderson | url=http://www.combustiblecelluloid.com/2006/fountain.shtml | title=Youth or Dare | publisher=Combustible Celluloid | accessdate=2006-11-28 ] or become part of the tree [cite news | author=Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat | url=http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/films/films.php?id=16313 | title=Film Review: The Fountain | publisher=Spirituality and Practice | accessdate=2006-11-28 ] , to which Dana Stevens adds "Tommy Creo, the present-day husband and scientist, should never have climbed into that bubble in a centuries-long attempt to defer his wife's death." [cite news | author=Dana Stevens | url=http://www.slate.com/id/2154252/ | title=Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain Reviewed | publisher=Slate | accessdate=2007-01-05 ] More middle-of-the-road interpretations posit the notion of three distinct storylines to be "sort of true and yet not true", introducing an in-between possibility wherein the narratives might exist on multiple levels.

Marketing

When actor Brad Pitt left director Darren Aronofsky's project in 2002, the director preserved the rights to printing a graphic novel similarly titled "The Fountain". Aronofsky said, "I knew it was a hard film to make, and I said at least if Hollywood fucks me over at least I'll make a comic book out of it."cite news | author=Jonah Weiland | url=http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=5073 | title=Talking "The Fountain" Graphic Novel with Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel | publisher=Comic Book Resources | date=2005-04-06 | accessdate=2006-11-10 ] He shopped the story to Vertigo Comics and was impressed by the illustrations of comic book artist Kent Williams. Aronofsky hired Williams to create the graphic novel for "The Fountain" based on the script that was originally intended to be used for the project involving Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Ari Handel, co-writer for the film, provided Williams with research, photographs, and images on "Mayans, astronomy, pulsars, and all kinds of cool stuff" to help with the graphic novel's design. Aronofsky gave Williams the freedom to interpret the story as the artist saw fit.

"The Fountain" originally had a release date of October 13, 2006, but the film was delayed to create a "long-lead campaign" and generate anticipation via word of mouth. The final release date of "The Fountain" was set for November 22, 2006. [cite news | author=Stax | url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/722/722494p1.html | title="Fountain", "Accepted" Shift | publisher=IGN|date=2006-08-01 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ] Aronofsky sent his screenplay to a group of eleven artists: Phil Hale, Martin Wilner, Jason Shawn Alexander, Kostas Seremetis, Dave Gibbons, Barron Storey, James Jean, Jim Lee, Olivier Bramanti, Seth Fisher, and Bill Sienkiewicz. The director invited them to interpret the screenplay in each one's chosen medium, and the interpretations were initially meant to be available on the website for "The Fountain". [cite news | author=George Gene Gustines | url=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/05/movies/moviesspecial/05gust.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=login&adxnnlx=1163195603-TOsxX/eZ6Yb1qCoHO0dxLQ | title=Six Ways of Looking at 'The Fountain' | publisher=New York Times | date=2006-11-05 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ] Darren Aronofsky also published a book in November 2006 based on "The Fountain" that contains production stills, the original script, original art, and observations by the film's creators. [cite web | url=http://www.rizzoliusa.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780789314956 | title=Rizzoli New York - Catalog - The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky | publisher=Rizzoli | accessdate=2006-11-11 ] The content and research agency Ramp Industry launched The Fountain Remixed, an official website driven by user-generated content. Users could download freely provided audio parts from "The Fountain"'s film score, remix the music, and upload the work onto the website to be evaluated by other users. [cite news | url=http://www.brandrepublic.com/bulletins/digital/article/603142/ramp-create-ugc-site-launch-foxs-the-fountain/ | title=Ramp to create UGC site for launch of Fox's 'The Fountain' | publisher=Brand Republic|date=2006-11-07 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ]

Reception

"The Fountain" was originally scheduled for a late 2005 release but was delayed by Rachel Weisz's pregnancy, and did not make a showing at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.cite news | author = David Hughes | title = Lost in Time | pages = 54 | publisher = Empire | date = 2006-05-26 | accessdate=2007-05-18] The film finally held its world premiere at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival on September 2, 2006. [cite web | url=http://www.labiennale.org/62/64483.pdf | title=Programme for pass holders and the public | publisher=Venice International Film Festival | format=PDF | accessdate=2006-11-12 ] While several critics booed the film at the festival's press screening, "The Fountain" received a 10-minute standing ovation at the public screening the following evening. "The Fountain" was commercially released in 1,472 theaters in the United States and Canada on Wednesday, November 22, 2006, a day before the holiday Thanksgiving. The film earned $3,768,702 in the U.S. and Canadian box office during the opening weekend of November 24. "The Fountain" earned $10,144,010 in the United States and Canada, and the film has grossed $5,761,344 in other territories, totaling $15,905,354 worldwide. [cite web | url=http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=fountain.htm | title=The Fountain (2006)|publisher=Box Office Mojo | accessdate=2007-05-18 ]

On Rotten Tomatoes, "The Fountain" has a 51% overall approval out of 181 reviews from critics and a 26% Cream of the Crop approval out of 181 reviews from major news outlets. [cite web | url=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_fountain/ | title=The Fountain|publisher=Rotten Tomatoes | accessdate=2007-02-17 ] Leslie Felperin of "Variety" described the switching between time periods throughout the film as abrupt and considered the visual effects to be similar to a "remake of the wormhole section of '2001: A Space Odyssey,' as produced by makers of instructional videos for beginning yoga students". [cite news | author=Leslie Felipern | url=http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117931455.html?categoryid=31&cs=1 | title=Reviews - The Fountain | publisher=Variety | date=2006-09-04 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ] "IGN"'s Filip Vukcevic described "The Fountain" as "a film that is not easily accessible", and commended Aronofsky's direction and Jackman's performance to shape the emotional core of the film. [cite news | author=Filip Vukcevic | url=http://movies.ign.com/articles/732/732996p1.html | title=The Fountain Review | publisher=IGN | date=2006-09-15 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ]

"The Fountain" won the $25,000 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize in Science and Technology for its unique approach, and the award was presented at the Hamptons International Film Festival in October 2006. [cite news | author=Jeff Sneider | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117952426.html?categoryid=13&cs=1 | title=Hamptons lauds 'Man' | publisher=Variety|date=2006-10-22 | accessdate=2006-11-11 ] The film was also nominated Satellite Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects in 2006, [cite web | author= | url=http://www.pressacademy.com/satawards/forms/pdf/2006-IPA-Nom-Announce.pdf | format=PDF | title=List of 11th Annual Nominees | publisher=International Press Academy | accessdate=2007-02-17 ] but lost to "Flags of Our Fathers" and "", respectively. [cite web | author= | url=http://www.pressacademy.com/satawards/forms/pdf/WinnerListMediaAdvisory.pdf | format=PDF | title=Winner Announcement | publisher=International Press Academy | accessdate=2007-05-10 ]

The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films nominated 2006 Saturn Awards for "The Fountain" for Best Science Fiction Film, Best Actor (Hugh Jackman), and Best Special Effects, [cite web | url=http://www.saturnawards.org/nominations.html | title=33rd Annual Saturn Awards Nominations | publisher=Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films | accessdate=2007-02-20 ] but lost to "Children of Men", Brandon Routh ("Superman Returns"), and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest", respectively. [cite news | author=David S. Cohen | url=http://www.variety.com/awardcentral_article/VR1117964717.html?nav=news&categoryid=1983&cs=1 | title='Superman' tops Saturns | publisher=Variety | date=2007-05-10 | accessdate=2007-05-11 ]

Home video

"The Fountain" was released on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray in the United States on May 15, 2007. The extras are a six-part featurette gallery about the film's periods and settings and the theatrical trailer. [cite news | author= | url=http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/Warner/Disc_Announcements/Warner_Brings_The_Fountain_to_Blu-ray,_HD_DVD/515 | title=Warner Brings 'The Fountain' to Blu-ray, HD DVD | publisher=High-Def Digest | date=2007-03-07 | accessdate=2007-03-19 ] DVD review site IGN notes that "there are serious issues with the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer" on the DVD version of the film, in particular some scenes are "dark and indistinct", with poor shadow detail and a lack of sharpness throughout. The audio mix fares much better, being "lively with substantial, but tasteful, use of surround activity to immerse the viewer in the environments". [cite news | author=Peter Schorn | url=http://dvd.ign.com/articles/786/786367p2.html | title=The Fountain Review | publisher=IGN | date=2007-05-08 | accessdate=2007-05-10 ]

Darren Aronofsky expressed disappointment with the DVD, having been in a long struggle with Warner Bros. as to whether he could record a commentary track. He has recorded a [http://www.mediafire.com/?5bxuqzjz3id downloadable version] , and is making an attempt at getting the film re-released in the Criterion Collection. [cite news | author = Peter Sciretta | title = Darren Aronofsky Blames Warner Bros For Fountain DVD | publisher = /Film | date = 2007-05-30 | url = http://www.slashfilm.com/2007/05/30/darren-aronofsky-blames-warner-bros-for-fountain-dvd/ | accessdate=2007-06-01]

References

Further reading

*cite book |author=Darren Aronofsky |title=The Fountain |format=Hardcover |year=2006 |month=November |day=28 |publisher=Universe |location= |isbn=0789314959

External links

* [http://www.fountainmovie.com/ Official site]
* [http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/thefountain/ Official teaser and trailer]
* [http://media.movies.ign.com/media/150/150321/vids_1.html "The Fountain" video interviews] with Darren Aronofsky, Hugh Jackman, and Rachel Weisz
* [http://www.cinemablend.com/new.php?id=3394 Toronto Film Festival press interview] with Darren Aronofsky, Rachel Weisz, et al.
* [http://www.thefountainremixed.com/en/welcome.php The Fountain Remixed] musical remix contest
* [http://www.rizzoliusa.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780789314956 "The Fountain" film book] by Darren Aronofsky
* [http://dccomics.com/graphic_novels/?gn=6123 "The Fountain" graphic novel] by Kent Williams
* [http://www.nonesuch.com/albums/the-fountain-soundtrack The Fountain: Music from the Motion Picture]
* [http://www.jamesclyne.com/projects.php?gallery_id=296 "The Fountain" concept art] by James Clyne
*rotten-tomatoes|id=the_fountain|title=The Fountain
*metacritic film|id=fountain|title=The Fountain
*imdb title|id=0414993|title=The Fountain


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