“What if you could live forever?”
Thus is the premise that sold movie-goers into seeing the movie The Fountain.
The Fountain is a Love Story wrapped up in a Sci-Fi drama, packaged in an indie film presentation. It is a beautifully told story that follows three parallel stories, each 500 years after the previous one. There is a 15th century Conquistador searching for a tree that promises immortality, a 21st century doctor searching for a cure to brain cancer, and a 26th century astronaut on a journey toward a dying star cluster. The main actor, Hugh Jackman, plays all three leads, and does so very admirably. It will be a challenge to review this movie without giving away too much of the plot, but I will try.
At the heart of The Fountain is a message of death and rebirth, with death starting the cycle toward rebirth. We are given 3 stories that (in the end, and quite beautifully I add) weave together a tale of this process. Tom (Jackman as the doctor) is searching for a cure to the type of Brain Cancer that is killing his wife. He is set upon curing her disease purely out of his love for her. Though his frustrations sometimes get in the way of relating to her, the audience never once doubts his commitment and devotion to both her and their marriage. He merely wishes to keep her alive with him so that they can remain together.
As the Conquistador, Tomas searches for a tree that will enable his queen to live forever, so that she may lead Spain through the darkness of a Religious Fanatic (read, Roman Catholic man) who is hell-bent upon extinguishing her and any who follow her for her heresies. And as the astronaut, Tommy is attempting to travel into a dying star cluster with the same tree in order to see it reborn and begin the cycle anew.
Throughout, the viewer is taken through very intentional cognitive dissonance – we are left confused. But the payoff is well worth it if you can keep your mind focused. This is not a film you want to try to watch without paying attention. It will make you think. And this may be the film’s strongest point.
The Fountain uses a lot of Mayan religious imagery and information. For the viewer, whether religiously devoted or atheistically inclined, you will be forced to confront your own beliefs of life and death… and even rebirth. For the Christian, the film can be used to show rebirth as a process that has allowed us all to live – Christ’s rebirth (and subsequently our own) and the gift to us of eternal life. It can also be used to open discussion about love, devotion, dedication – all very Biblical principals.
The movie does move slowly at points. And it does send the message that the Mayans were right. But even in these faults, I encourage you to watch it for yourself and use it to spark your mind and your heart to confront your own beliefs on these subjects. You will not regret it.