The Fountain

Posted: January 14, 2012 in cinema, movies
Tags: ,

THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL

The Eden story, which takes up chapters 2 to 4 of the Book of Genesis, tells how God creates the first man and puts him in a paradise-garden in Eden. Before making the first woman, God tells the man Adam that he may eat the fruit of any of the trees in the garden except that of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God then forms the first woman Eve and Genesis 2 ends with a note that the man and woman “were naked and felt no shame”. A talking snake subsequently tempts the woman to eat the fruit with the promise of knowledge. The woman and the man both eat, become aware of their nakedness and make coverings for themselves. God, aware that the first humans now have knowledge, banishes them from the garden lest they eat from the Tree of Life and become like the gods.

PHILOSOPHY, RELIGION AND LITERATURE

In Miltom’s Paradise Lost, The Tree is viewed as the instrument of humanity’s fall. Of course the tree is symbolic of something, but the nature of the symbol needs clarifying. Therefore the knowledge that is being offered by the tree must be of a different kind. God calls it ‘knowledge of good and evil.’ But what does he mean by that? What the tree brings is a type of knowledge peculiar to humanity: ‘consciousness’. The consciousness is the single unique-identifier of the human mind over that of other animals. It is our ability to ‘know that we know’ which makes us unique as a species. The idea that consciousness is central to the human condition has occupied all areas of human enquiry, including religion, philosophy, the arts and science.
Kant’s view was that our knowledge of the objective world was based on representation, and that we can never know ‘the thing-in-itself’ that lies behind this representation. Arthur Schopenhauer developed a philosophy built on Kant’s, but suggested that self-knowledge, or self-consciousness, can be a pathway to a true understanding of ‘the thing-in-itself’. Schopenhauer definition of ‘Will’ is fascinating: something ‘one and immutable’, a ‘universal substratum from which every individual arises into the world of appearance, only to sink again after a brief and futile struggle for existence’. It is not hard to see an analogy here between Schopnhauer’s ‘Universal Will’ and the concept of ‘God’. In Paradise Lost this same concept is expressed as the self-consciousness that comes with forbidden knowledge of the reality of our existence. Schopenhauer’s philosophy (as he himself noted) has much in common with Eastern religion, as expressed in the Vedic Upanishads. Salvation is available to the soul with the loss of its individuality and its escape from the phenomenal world into ‘Brahman‘, the world spirit (analogous to the Universal Will in Schopenhauer).

THE FOUNTAIN, THE MOVIE


The Fountain is a 2006 American romantic drama film, which blends elements of fantasy, history, religion, and science fiction. It is directed by Darren Aronofsky, and stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. The film comprises three storylines where Jackman and Weisz play different sets of characters: a modern-day scientist and his cancer-stricken wife, a conquistador and his queen, and a space traveler in the future who hallucinates his lost love. The storylines—interwoven with use of match cuts and recurring visual motifs—reflect the themes of love and mortality. Aronofsky originally planned to direct The Fountain on a $70 million budget with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in the lead roles, but Pitt’s withdrawal and cost overruns led Warner Bros. to shut down production. The director rewrote the script to be sparser, and was able to resurrect the film with a $35 million budget with Jackman and Weisz in the lead roles. Production mainly took place on a sound stage in Montreal, Quebec, and the director used macro photography to create key visual effects for The Fountain at a low cost.

THE STORYLINE


Director Darren Aronofsky with Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman

The Fountain has three storylines told nonlinearly, each separated by five centuries. The three periods are interwoven with match cuts and recurring visual motifs; Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz play the main characters for all three narratives. Even within a given narrative, the elements of that particular story are not told in chronological order. In 16th century Central America in Mayan territory, conquistador Tomás quests for the Tree of Life for his queen Isabel. In 2005, medical researcher Tommy obsessively seeks a cure for the brain tumor killing his wife Izzi Creo. In 2500, space traveler Tom travels to a nebula in a bubble-shaped spacecraft that contains a garden and a dying tree that represents his lost love. Director Darren Aronofsky emphasized that the storylines in their time periods and their respective convergences were open to interpretation. The director has said of The Fountain‘s intricacy and underlying message, “[The film is] very much like a Rubik’s cube, where you can solve it in several different ways, but ultimately there’s only one solution at the end.”
The Fountain‘s theme of fear of death is “a movement from darkness into light, from black to white” that traces the journey of a man scared of death and moving toward it. The film begins with a paraphrase of Genesis 3:24, the Biblical passage that reflects the The Fall of Man. Aronofsky also interpreted the story of Genesis as the definition of mortality for humanity. He inquired of the Fall, “If they had drank from the Tree of Life [instead of the Tree of Knowledge] what would have separated them from their maker? So what makes us human is actually death. It’s what makes us special.”

THE SOUNDTRACK

Director Darren Aronofsky discusses a scene with actress Rachel Weisz

Clint Mansell — the composer for Aronofsky’s previous films Pi and Requiem for a Dream — reprised his role for The Fountain. The San Francisco-based string quartet Kronos Quartet — who previously performed for the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack — and Scottish post-rock band Mogwai also contributed to the film score. Mansell researched possible scores to compose one tying together the three storylines and sought to have an organic feeling to the score and explored implementing orchestral and electronic elements that would have “a real human element to them that breathes.” While reading the script, Mansell was reminded of the post-rock music of Mogwai as well as Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Sigur Rós and initially planned a score based around percussion before adding the string quartet and choir.

Source for The Fountain texts: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fountain

THE FOUNTAIN SOUNDTRACK:
01. The Last Man
02. Holy Dread!
03. Three of Life
04. Stay with Me
05. Death is a Disease
06. Xibalba
07. First Snow
08. Finish it
08. Death is the Road to Awe
09. Together We Will Live Forever

SEE (AND LISTEN) CLINT MANSELL’S DEATH IS THE ROAD TO AWE ON YOUTUBE:

 

PHOTO GALLERY FOR THE FOUNTAIN

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