I might as well dive right in and proclaim my sheer love of The Fountain. I was captivated by the trailers and patiently waited for the film to arrive. Then, suddenly, it was leaving theatres before I knew it. Thankfully, I managed to catch it before it vanished, and, as I anticipated, I was utterly spellbound. Now, nearly seven months later, The Fountain is finally available on DVD, and it’s a DVD worth owning. Any plot synopsis, like the one below, does not do the film justice. This film must be seen, no question.
Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain is an odyssey about one man’s thousand-year struggle to save the woman he loves. His epic journey begins in 16th century Spain, where conquistador Tomas Creo (Hugh Jackman) commences his search for the Tree of Life, the legendary entity believed to grant eternal life to those who drink of its sap. As modern-day scientist Tommy Creo, he desperately struggles to find a cure for the cancer that is killing his beloved wife Isabel (Rachel Weisz). Traveling through deep space as a 26th century astronaut, Tom begins to grasp the mysteries of life that have consumed him for more than a century.
Again, the synopsis does not do the film justice because, in a way, it’s misleading. Much like the film’s marketing; the information provided is not dead-on, but not inaccurate either. I personally don’t think it represents The Fountain well enough, and possibly even tries to dumb it down a little. Thankfully, the actual story will give the viewer more than they actually anticipated. In fact, it’s a film that will stay with you and require repeat viewings. Of course, since this is a spectacular film, the repeat viewings are wholly justified. So what is the story? Well, as the synopsis goes, it’s three intertwined stories all following the same themes of life and death. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz play the leads in all three tales.
I’d go so far as to say The Fountain is a work of art. It is not easy to define, but at the same time, it’s easy to understand and follow. Aronofsky, the film’s director, has created a sublime and passionate experience. Not only is it a great take on the classic love story, it’s so undeniably different. I can see how this film could confuse people, but it’s something that everyone should see.
The Fountain also presents a challenge with its narrative structure. As the three films unfold simultaneously, you have to keep tabs on everything. It forces you to get involved. You simply can’t shut your brain off, but you have to recall what has come before and be ready for the unexpected (that’s a cliché, I know, but it’s totally relevant here). The film’s conclusion, which I will not give away, is an example of the unexpected (yet it works perfectly with how the story unfolds).
So how do the actors fare with this material? This is easily Jackman’s best role of 2006, and probably his best film to date. He had a great year with X-Men: The Last Stand and The Prestige, but The Fountain shows him at the top of his game. In fact, I can’t picture anyone else in this role. He falls into it so effortlessly and is able to bring forth an absolutely stunning performance. He displays so much depth and intensity here that I haven’t seen before. Weisz also does a remarkable job, playing, among other things, a woman who wants to share her last few moments in life with her husband. It’s an absolutely heartbreaking role. The two leads just give us brilliant performances from start to finish.
What I loved most about The Fountain, which I previously mentioned, is that it requires you to fill in the blanks yourself. It requires you to be invested in the story, which is something that films rarely do nowadays. It leads you to draw your own conclusions and, since we’re all different, we’re all going to pull out our own unique interpretation. I had great discussions about this film with my spouse after viewing it. I was absolutely enthralled in both this film and this discussion that resulted from it. You don’t get that nowadays, and for that, The Fountain deserves even more praise. Not only is this a brilliant film, one that will get you talking, but it’s one that will be revered as a classic for decades to come.
And how is the DVD? The audio and visual qualities are stupendous. Given the visual treat of the film, Warner Bros does it absolute justice with their transfer. There may be a few little hiccups here in there, it’s not an absolutely perfect transfer, but it’s still solid. The transfer absolutely preserves the director’s dramatic unique use of imagery. The audio is just as solid, giving us a great 5.1 mix. Everything sounds as it should, just as crisp and clear as the visuals.
As for the extras, the DVD provides a six-part documentary about the production of this film. Documentaries of this fashion seem to be becoming the norm for Warner Bros., and I’m not complaining. Oddly, there is no mention of The Fountain graphic novel, released by DC Comics last year. Also included are the movie’s trailer and an insert for the movie’s soundtrack.
Overall, The Fountain comes Highly Recommended! Arguably the best film of 2007, this is a film that everyone needs to see. There are few films that motivate me so, that get me so involved, but The Fountain is one of them. I strongly recommend at least renting this movie. I know I have basically gushed over this film, but it deserves it. The movie is a feat for the eyes, but also for our heart and brains. It stimulates so much in us, gets us so involved in such a unique way, that it should not be passed up.
The Fountain arrives on DVD May 15th, 2007.
Also from the same studio, Warner Home Video has recently released two other movies worth checking out. The first is the modest hit Music & Lyrics, starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. It’s a simple, traditional romantic comedy with a nice batch of extras. Warner has also released The Painted Veil to the digital format. For such a critically acclaimed movie as this one, a movie that harkens back to the original romantic dramas of early cinema, it’s a shame to see it get such an empty release. Both are available at your local video store (but check out The Fountain first, of course).
Music & Lyrics and The Painted Veil are now both available on DVD.