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By Michael Ferraro | April 19, 2007

I have to admit right off the bat that this blog is too little too late. I would have written it earlier but all that other stuff I was wrapped up in has prevented me to do so. So I’ll do it now, weeks prior to its official DVD release, and hope maybe one or two of you may interested in checking it out.

The film I speak of, of course, is Darren Aronofsky’s terribly under-appreciated The Fountain. A good friend of mine saw it last year at the Toronto Film Festival. Knowing how excited I was to see the first film from Aronofsky in six years, he called me to share the bad news about its apparent “disappointment” across the film universe.

He wasn’t the only one to feel that way either. It seemed that almost everyone on the planet hated this movie. The Fountain was the only movie I actually looked forward to all of last year and people I knew and trusted just kept telling me how disappointing it was.


After a while, I just stopped reading reviews and stories about people “booing” it at screenings. I didn’t care because those are probably the same people who told me that Chicago was a “great movie worthy of Academy Award nominations” or whatever.

So I waited it out. On 11/24/2006, the movie finally opened in my town, and Film Threat’s glorious Vonder Haar posted his review. I read it nervously, as he and I generally share some of the same opinions on films (though I always thought he was way too kind about this film right here), I then became a little concerned. Especially since I was leaving to go to the earliest screening I could find in just a few minutes.


After the credits began to roll, I sat in the theater for a good minute or two, contemplating whether I loved or hated this movie. I pondered over this all of Thanksgiving break. This movie has a guy floating through space in a clear ball while talking to a tree for a good portion of the running time. What’s to love about that?

So I saw it again days later. Some local writers in the area were in the same predicament as me – we kind of like it but needed proof that we weren’t crazy. After it ended the second time, I got so much more out of it. Now, don’t get me wrong, this movie is not a complicated movie to figure out, but there is no set way to intreperate

After it ended, the other two writers and I hung around afterwards and discussed it. An hour or two later, we each concluded that each of us was beginning to love it.

So I saw it again. For a third time. There have only been a few films I saw theatrically three times. Punch-Drunk Love, Return of the King, and 25th Hour. There isn’t any reason why I chose those to see so often than other films, it just sort of happened that way.

That third time, my mind was set. In my world, The Fountain was one of the best films of the year, and the film I thought about the most. I’d rather watch this movie than Babel. I’d rather watch this movie than Little Miss Sunshine. Hell, I’d rather watch this movie than the upcoming Spider Man 3, even though it looks like they actually attempted to make the special effects not look so shitty this go round. But is Sandman another evil scientist? I am not sure I can handle yet another scientist going after our Spidey friend.

“But I digress; you play Sorry, I play Chess.” – Neil Fallon

I put The Fountain in my Top Ten of 2006 at number 4. If I was to make that list today, it’d be number 1. Sure, I am perfectly aware of all of its flaws, but perhaps if it didn’t have such a horrible production nightmare, some of those flaws may have been sorted through. Give it a watch when it comes out on DVD. You’ll probably hate it, as so many others do, but a good few of you may find it as beautiful as I did.

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  1. Michelle says:

    First of all I just added your blog to my favorites! I love the way you write (the one about American Pie kills me) AND even more refreshing is that I thin you are spot on with your movie critique ( I also have deep appreciation for Requiem and Magnolia).

    I’ve seen The Fountain about seven times so far and have forced a handful of friends and acquaintances to watch the film, all of which either didn’t like the film or had no deeper praise than to note how visually intense the images were.

    While feeling somewhat isolated by the fact that a film that has impacted me so deeply can be so easily dismissed by my associates. I firmly believe the following:

    This movie is a litmus test of 1.) Your ability to internalize and grasp viscerally the existential crisis. Namely, that you, me and everyone you love and care about will die and there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it, along with all the dilemmas of meaning that accompany this fact. 2) how deeply you love or have loved a significant other and your ability to become absorbed in Hugh Jackman’s character to experience his desperation and grief 3) your intellectual willingness to actively watch a film and piece together the symbolic threads that tie the segments together weaving the film into the tightest and most pristine film ever created in terms visual symbolism, character development, and plot.

    Not pulling any punches: if you didn’t like the film you are either simple, or intellectually lazy and that’s it. The film captures a fundamentally important problem of existence. I found myself choking back outright sobs at various points in the film – it was perfect.

    One more item I would love some dialog about. When I watch the trailer or read the back of the DVD case I feel that the movie is misrepresented. It is written/marketed as if the film is one continuous story that spans 1000 years and I think this is why many people dislike the film. Watching it or trying to make sense of it this way is incoherent.

    The trailer cites 1500AD as the setting for the Conquistador portion of the film, 2000AD as the present day Scientist portion of the film, and 2500AD as the Space/Orb portion of the film. I find the assertion that the Space/Orb part actually takes place in a physical future to be especially misleading and inaccurate since I interpret this part to be a representation of Hugh Jackman’s transcendental consciousness grappling with the reality of his wife’s death and the inevitability of his own death. Why did “they” make the trailer to imply that that segment of the film happens in a concrete future instead of within Hugh Jackman’s consciousness? I think it muddies the water for someone who isn’t actively engaged in interpreting the film, and cheapens to some extent the purity of what Aronofsky is getting at.

    What do you think???

  2. Luis Rosario says:

    I also found this film to be breathtakingly beautiful and I was very disapointed it never opened in Puerto Rico so I had to watch it by means of some alternet methods. I hate it when movies I really want to see never come out here in P.R. the same hapened for A Scanner Darkly and I had to wait for the dvd release. Anyway I absolutely found The fountain to be amazing.

  3. Saimfeld says:

    Wasn’t “beautiful” MY word for this movie? Thief…

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