Read my review of The Fountain right here.
Relive our many months of The Fountain coverage right here.
The reviews are coming in for The Fountain, and it’s looking more and more like I’m in the minority. I can’t say I’m surprised, but I was hoping for more. I was definitely hoping for braver critical thinking – many writers who bemoan the state of modern filmmaking seem to have completely written off a movie that tries to be different, that tries to rethink the rules of narrative, and that tries to be serious. That seems to actually be what is bothering most critics – The Fountain is a non-ironic, completely earnest look at very deep and spiritual issues.
CHUD messageboard poster Jacknife Johnny posted an Oscar Wilde quote that I think is incredibly accurate in this case: "Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital." I’m not that worried about the fate of the movie in the long term because I already know the future of The Fountain – it will be regarded as a masterpiece of the new century, and even the people who gave it bad reviews will one day hail it as the classic it is. It’s happened with so many movies in the past.
I’ve been talking this movie up for months now, and today’s really one of my last chances to do that. I’m not going to write an editorial bemoaning the film’s poor box office performance on Monday (although I may bitch about it in the box office report), and if the movie is as completely ahead of its time as I suspect, then we’ll next be talking about it when it comes out on DVD (actually, I have an Aronofsky interview on the way. But after that…). Although I must admit that my second viewing made me want to write an in-depth treatise on the film more than ever, talking about the symbology and meaning of every frame. Hell, I could get a chapter out of how Tom the astronaut eats the bark of the Tree of Life like communion, and how the eucharist gives Christ eternal life in a very holistic way.
So now, as the release of the film is imminent, I can only ask you to give it a chance. If you think that movies should sometimes be about something more than turning your brain off for two hours, I ask you to give The Fountain a shot. If you’re interested in supporting a filmmaker who is taking bold chances, I ask you to give The Fountain a shot. Hell, if you’re looking for something to see while blazed, I ask you to give The Fountain a shot.
Here’s the thing: go in with an open mind. The film takes some time to really come together, so be patient. Don’t tune out too early. Don’t get too caught up in “solving” the narrative. Pay attention and let the movie happen to you. I think that if you’re willing to engage the film you’ll come to the end credits with a fairly full basic understanding of what Aronofsky is saying.
But that doesn’t mean you’ll like it. I’ve been pretty strident about loving this movie, and I have taken many critics to task when I felt they were unfair to it, but I do understand that The Fountain won’t be for everyone. I’m not going to polarize the readership by saying that people who don’t like it don’t get it – this is a film that just isn’t going to work for everyone who sees it. Be careful of snap judgments, though – this is a movie you may want to take some time to mull over before delivering your final call.
If you do go see it this holiday weekend, I’d love to hear what you think about it. Join our message boards and post your reaction, or drop me an email and let me know. I think that whether you like it or not, The Fountain is going to be a movie you’ll want to talk about.