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</script></div>{/googleAds}There is a scene in Director Darren Aronofsky's (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) science-fiction/ fantasy film, The Fountain, where Dr. Tom Creo (Hugh Jackman), traveling in space circa 2500 A.D., lifts his sleeves to expose the hauntingly limitless rings of tattoos that adorn his body. Like the annular patterns found on the aged Tree that accompanies Tom on his thousand year quest for immortality, each symbolic ring marks a year since the premature death of his beloved wife, Izzi (Rachel Weisz) in 2000. â"You pull me through time" he whispers, arms outstretched, as if baring his soul, with no one to embrace him. It is an emotionally shocking, yet intensely beautiful moment that not only mirrors our incessant search for everlasting life and rebirth for those we have lost, but celebrates the strength of a love that transcends time.

Thankfully, Aronofsky's brain-child, which consists of three, centuries-spanning storylines held together by the same imaginative, faith-driven fibre, explodes with ninety-six minutes of equally intoxicating and self-interpretive visuals. As magically appealing that is for some, understandably, this film will fail to captivate many; in short, you will love it or hate, with very few falling in between. In fact, many have openly shunned (and booed) The Fountain's artistic spirit, declaring it a complicated experience with far too simplistic a message. I, on the other hand, applaud Aronofsky's lyrical vision - for having the guts to stray from the mainstream formula and create a mystical, thought-provoking, fantasy piece that digs deep into the core of the human spirit and emerges as nothing short of pure, cinematic poetry.

At the nucleus of that vision, Jackman plays Tommy Creo, a young oncologist whose advanced scientific work is devoted to minimizing tumor growth. Although limited to laboratory monkeys, Tommy's sole motivation is his wife, Izzi, who has been diagnosed with an accelerating brain tumor. Desperate to scientifically find a cure for the â"disease" known as death, he promisingly discovers that the surgical use of a Guatemalan tree sample, while not yet affecting the tumor itself, has regenerated neurological function in one of the lab subjects (aptly named â"Donovan"). Fighting against both time and the advice of his superior, Dr. Lillian Guzetti (the always lovely Ellen Burstyn), Tommy painfully opts to continue his controversial research, rather than spend the limited time he has with Izzi, in an effort to save her.

In the midst of his modern-day crusade to conquer death, Izzi nears completion of her manuscript entitled, The Fountain. Birthed from Mayan myth, it recounts the tale of Spanish conquistador, Tomas (Jackman), who at the behest of Queen Isabel (Weisz) in 1500 A.D., seeks the guarded Tree of Life so that they may drink its sap, bathe in the luxury of eternal life and deliver Eden to Spain. Deemed a heretic by the Grand Inquisitor (Stephen McHattie) and ordered to be punished by death for her quest, Tomas knows that the only way to save his Queen and country from bondage, and become the Adam to her Eve, is to find the holy Mayan pyramid that protects the Biblical Tree.

Just shy of completing her book, Izzi ceases writing, leaving Tomas facing the Mayan priest who protects the mystical Tree. From her deathbed, Izzi begs Tommy, to â"finish it." Incapable of knowing how to fulfill her spiritual tale - and refusing to let her go from the physical world - Tommy fears that he can never do as she wishes. Izzi lovingly assures Tommy that he will both achieve and accept the path to completion. Little does he know, this initially agonizing request will actually be a gift of spiritual awakening, from Izzi, in the afterlife.

To find the answers, astronaut Tom (possibly an ode to Bowie's Major Tom?), in the final and futuristic portion of the triad, travels through space in an effort to reach Xibalba, the dying star which Mayans believe is the underworld for physical reincarnation of dead souls. Incapable of anything but grief, and haunted by Izzi's pleas to â"finish it," Tom forges on so that Izzi may be reborn and they may love for eternity. Feeding from his Tree of Life, a meditative Tom desperately tries to keep the tree alive until they can pass through Xibalba and achieve a state of Nirvana. Ultimately, however, Tom/Tommy/Tomas each discover that despite their desperate attempts to cheat death, we are above all, human, and despite our youthful desires, death plays a vital role in the evolution of creation and humanity.

Sounds complicated, I know, but are not the mysteries surrounding life, love, faith, death and (re)creation? That is why Tommy and Izzi's superbly crafted love (co-written by Aronofsky and Ari Handel) anchors the film so beautifully. On an unwavering scientific journey, deaf to the vibrancy of the world and living in-between the light, Tommy sees life in the form of tangible results; for him, fighting time and keeping Izzi alive, means preserving his own life and their love. Conversely, Izzi, although initially layered in fear, becomes bathed in the acceptance of light, living for the moment and embracing the possibility of her rebirth; she knows that while physically they may not always be together, theirs is a love that even time cannot touch. Her manuscript serves as the bridge between Tommy's scientific world and her realm of pure faith. If that is a message that most critics would discount as â"simplistic" then I say, more movies should dare to be as childish.

Cinematically, each and every frame is meticulously shot, overflowing with symbolism, making The Fountain an intelligent, visual masterpiece that redefines the genre. Backed by Clint Mansell's mesmerizing score, Tommy travels through confined, dark spaces as opposed to the open, light-infused rooms that house Izzi. Geometric shapes define each character and his individual quest, including Aronofsky's use of 360 degree camera shots to reinforce the circle of life and evolution of his characters. The white sap that Tomas consumes forces an organic bloom of life from within. Then Tomas and Tom Creo (Latin for â"creation" and Spanish for â"I believe") travel through spaces reminiscent of the birth canal, experiencing a rebirth. No doubt, this film is as visually intoxicating as the love that its main characters share.

Ironically enough, The Fountain and its main characters experienced a death and rebirth of their own. In the wake of a big budget production (rumored to be $75 million plus) featuring the likes of superstars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, Pitt backed out, taking studio funding with it. After a cut in the script, a slash of the budget, a several year hiatus and the signing of Jackman and Weisz, The Fountain was rejuvenated. For those of us who love this film, I think we can agree that Pitt's departure was truly a blessing in disguise, for Jackman shines in a spellbinding and physical performance - possibly the finest of his career. You can feel every ounce of his love from a mere breath on his lover's neck, the pain in his heart with every pound on her dying chest and the urgency of his final quest. Likewise, Weisz's eyes speak volumes that the lips never could and Burstyn's limited role serves beautifully as the true voice of reason.

Love it or hate it, you cannot deny that Aronofsky has intricately woven a deeply moving and often comical, non-linear tale taken from the puzzling threads of life and created a host of mind-blowing visions that will strike a different emotional chord in each of us. And while it may have taken one man a thousand years to come full circle and achieve Acceptance, it may only take you ninety-six minutes to accept the gift offered by The Fountain: that while we may never abandon our quest for eternal youth, maybe, just maybe, we should be placing more emphasis on nurturing the soul rather than preserving a decaying exterior. Possibly then, we too, can plant a seed and â"finish it."


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.77:1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Language and Sound: Closed Captioned; English: DTS 5.1 Surround; French: DTS 5.1 Surround

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.

* Featurette
o Making of Gallery
+ Australia
+ 21st Century
+ Spain - 16th Century
+ New Spain
+ Endless Field
+ The Future
* Trailer - Original theatrical trailer for The Fountain

Number of discs: - 1- Keepcase packaging