Running Time: 96 mins
Rated: Rated M
The Fountain is a somewhat esoteric piece of science fiction and imagination. It was written and directed by Darren Aronofsky who also made the tantalising film Pi and the stark drama, Requiem for a Dream.
The Fountain is very ambitious in its scope, covering the past, present and future. The past is focused on an expedition to Mexico in the 16th century and the search for a fountain of life, the battles of the Conquistadors. The present focuses on a scientist, his work with chimpanzees, an attempt to find an elixir, a potion that will ensure eternal youth. In the meantime, his wife, a novelist, is dying of cancer. The future focuses on the same man, in a bubble, floating in space, with a tree and the means of eternal life - but wishing to die and be reunited with his wife.
The main protagonists are played by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz (Aronofsky's wife). Jackman appears as a Conquistador in the past as well the scientist in the present and future. Rachel Weisz portrays the queen in the past and the scientist's wife in the present and the future. Ellen Burstyn (who appeared in Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream) is a fellow scientist.
The film is particularly intellectual - appealing to the mind rather than to the heart and to the emotions. While emotions are shown, the audience is invited to respond in a somewhat cerebral manner.
Perhaps this is what led to divided critical opinion. While some championed the film as imaginative and adventurous, it was booed and hissed at its screenings at the Venice film festival.
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.