the fountain 2.0

So… ca sa ma explic. Am scris ce am scris despre The Fountain. Cele scrise sunt impresii sincere, ele nu vin dintr-o extrem de vasta experienta sau dintr-o insatiabila pasiune cinefilica. Gustul amar a venit din creier imediat dupa generic. Si curios si doritor sa imi verific priceperea si intuitia glandei ce a secretat amaraciunea am inceput sa mai citesc alte review-uri. Cel pe care l-am gasi a fi cel mai aproape de ce cred si eu este urmatorul el se gaseste in The New York Times, si e scris de un critic pe care il citesc de vreo 10 ani, si cu care nu am fost chiar de fiecare data de acord.

A Love That Tries to Conquer All, Including Past Lives(fragment)


The three stories are not told in linear order, but in a circular, swirling pattern that suggests a mandala or a Mayan calendar. Circles also figure prominently in Mr. Aronofsky’s visual scheme, and he seems to be trying, with a seriousness of purpose that few American filmmakers attempt, to subvert the essentially sequential nature of film. Like a story by Jorge Luis Borges, “The Fountain” dispenses with everyday assumptions about time, space and causality and tries to replace the prose of narrative cinema with a poetic language of rhyming images and visual metaphors.

I wish I could say that it succeeded. At his best — which is to say as a maker of gorgeous, haunting compositions (exquisitely rendered in Matthew Libatique’s cinematography) — Mr. Aronofsky can achieve an eloquence that suggests a blend of Andrei Tarkovsky (speaking of rhymes) and comic books. But his commitment to conveying meaning and emotion through painstakingly constructed images also gives the movie a static, claustrophobic atmosphere. (When Queen Isabel notes that “these are dark times,” she seems to be commenting mainly on the relentless chiaroscuro of the lighting design.)

The director gives his main actors very little to do. Since their job is to embody a paradoxical romantic axiom — lovers may die, but love never does — they are trapped within a narrow range of emotions. Ms. Weisz’s role is to glow and sigh, while Mr. Jackman registers various forms of anguish and desperation. The intensity of their feeling never breaks the surface, and the frame encases them like a vitrine. It’s hard to sympathize with their hunger to overcome death, since neither one is credibly alive to begin with.

Entwined with their thousand-year melodrama is quite a bit of strenuous ideamongering, having to do with the quest for eternal life and its consequences, and also with the tension between science and art. Tom Creo (the last name means “I believe” in Spanish) rages in the lab, bullying his subordinates and exasperating his supervisor (Ellen Burstyn) with his insistence on going after the secret of immortality rather than a mere cure for disease. Izzi, meanwhile, may have unlocked the secret herself, in a manuscript she has been working on (by hand, on old-fashioned folio pages) called “The Fountain.” “Finish it,” she says to Tom.

She also tells him about Xibalba, the Mayan afterlife, a swirling vortex where all distinctions of present and past seem to vanish. Xibalba, which is also the name of a distant nebula in the movie, is connected to that tree, which is, according to the movie’s dream logic, both a metaphor and an actual organism. (It is also, a bit misleadingly, the source of the film’s title: fountain of youth, tree of life — same thing, really). It is where superstition and science meet, and where the truth of ancient religion is affirmed by the methods of modern science.

I think so, at any rate. To his credit, Mr. Aronofsky does not explain too much, and “The Fountain” leaves a tantalizing sense of puzzlement in its wake. Parsing its logic and arguing about its premises will be among the main activities of the small, devoted cult of admirers that is likely to gather around this movie, protecting it from the derision of the uninitiated. The problem, though, is that its techniques run too far beyond its ideas, which are blurry and banal, rather than mysterious and resonant. “The Fountain” is something to see, but it is also much less, finally, than meets the eye.

Desigur se prea poate sa nu fie asa, dar eu asta sutin.

~ by Jack Rider on December 18, 2007.

2 Responses to “the fountain 2.0”

  1. Criticii sunt personagii frustrate care nu sunt capabile de actul creatiei… sau dupa cum se spune “Everybody’s a critic!”

  2. dupa principiul tau nimic nu ar mai trebui criticat…sau s-ar critica doar regizorii intre ei 🙂 . eu unul gasesc ca fiecare simte si vede ce vrea, si de vrea sa si exprime asta e dreptul sau 😀

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