Impressions of The Fountain (A Movie Review)

What if you could live forever?

I am writing this entry in the afterglow of a movie – something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. Writing about a movie in its afterglow, that time when the potency of its feeling is still fresh in one’s mind, is the best time to write about a movie. The writer more easily relates the feeling of the movie in their writing. Today is the perfect opportunity to do this. I have just watched The Fountain, and I encourage you to watch the trailer at its Apple Trailers page.

Darren Aronofsky, who also wrote and directed Pi, has created a classic. The Fountain is a delicate interweaving of three timelines taking place in the years 1500, 2000, and 2500 AD. In 1500, Thomas searches for and eventually finds the Tree of Life, only to be absorbed by its power in the midst of his lust for life everlasting. In 2000, Tom struggles to find a cure of his dying wife’s tumor but is defeated by the inevitability of death. In 2500, Tommy journeys to a dying star in the Xilbalba nebula, struggling to keep his love alive while they journey to the place where he believes they can both have eternal life.

I was deeply touched by this movie. In a potent polyphony of images, the message is given over and over again in different ways:

Life is precious.
Earthly life is not meant to last forever.
Death is the Road to Awe.

The mark of a great film is one that has profound and different meaning to different people, a film that is open to interpretation. One could see the film as the outline of every human’s struggle with death, humanity’s seeming inability to learn from its mistakes, or a love poem told in 12 chapters. Not all will enjoy this film for what it truly is because not all can appreciate the depth that it offers. But that’s fine, because we’re all learning together, anyway.

As for myself, I believe death is ultimately the Road to Awe because I intrinsically know that my Earthly life was never meant to last forever, nor is there any possibility that it will. Yet I am more than my physical body, and the other parts, the parts some call spirit and soul, live on. The Awe that awaits me after death is an experience of the One who created all.

At the final pinnacle of the film, Tom finally resolves the conflict within himself, reliving the moment when he planted the life that would carry his love on. By thricely failing to save his love’s earthly life, he paved a Road to Awe.

Together we will live forever.