In one way or another I’ve been waiting to see The Fountain for five years, ever since Darren Aronofsky‘s last film, Requiem For A Dream left me wandering across London from Soho to King’s Cross in something of a daze and turning up at a party in a distinctly non-party mood. It’s been a long wait for his next offering, partly because of the (in hindsight fortuitous) withdrawal of Brad Pitt from the picture a few weeks before filming was due to start. Hugh Jackman‘s performance leaves little doubt that the revised casting was a considerably better choice.
The film’s been dubbed ‘science fiction’ but could equally be considered a historical epic or fantasy, and is probably better viewed without much thought to genre. It tracks three parallel tales set in distinct historical periods, but the relationship within them is left somewhat oblique and I’m sure many a discussion will revolve around exactly how we’re supposed to understand them, or the Mayan mythology that figures so prominently.
All that aside, Aronofsky repeats the methodology of his previous work in setting up an engaging story in the first half of the film and then through the intensity of imagery, performance and music (provided once again by the Kronos Quartet) turning it into an intensely emotional whirlwind that leaves the viewer drained but enriched by the experience. It’s no surprise that the cast and crew were watching films like Herzog’s landmark Aguirre on set—as the film shares not only its predecessors interest in South American folklore, but also its remarkable emotional impact.