“Therefore, the Lord God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and placed a flaming sword to protect the tree of life.”
There are two central questions that Man has struggled with throughout the history of the world: how did Life come to be and what happens after Death. Both religion and science have studied these things and no conclusive answer has ever been reached, and I’m afraid none will ever be given to us.
Darren Aronofsky‘s masterpiece “The Fountain” explores various avenues in this regard, notably the mythic Tree of Life, the search for a cure for aging and the idea that if stars can die and give birth to new ones, maybe souls can be reborn the same way. Sounds heady, but the actual movie is as heartfelt as it gets, because as trippy as its various elements can be, they all revolve around an incredibly involving, grounded love story.
Now, we’re faced with a much simpler, but nonetheless wrenching question: what do you do when the love of your life is dying? This is what’s obsessing Hugh Jackman‘s character, whose wife (Rachel Weisz) is in the final stages of brain cancer. All he can see is her imminent death, and he’s frantically trying to find a way to save her… When, ultimately, he should probably be taking example from her, who’s gracefully accepting her fate and trying to enjoy what time she has left.
Meanwhile, she’s been writing a novel about a conquistador sent by the Queen of Spain to Central America to find the key to immortality and she wants her husband to “finish it”, which we can safely assume he does by jotting down the part about flying out into space towards Xibalba, the nebula the Mayans believed to be their underworld. But the more I watch “The Fountain”, the more I deeply feel that beyond all the fascinating symbolism, it’s really all about how it’s really through Love that “together, we will live forever.”
On a sensory level, Aronofsky’s film is pure awe, from how brilliantly the editing connects the various storylines to the use of light, darkness and golden hues, by the way of Clint Mansell‘s mind-blowing score, possibly the best of the decade. And then there’s the acting, to which now words can do justice; Jackman and Weisz are iconically perfect throughout, never failing to move us.
Out of all the films that will make my Best of the ’00s list, this is certainly the most underrated, but I remain convinced that eventually, most people will come around and realize what a tremendous work of art this is.