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The Fountain is an odyssey about one man's thousand-year struggle to save the woman he loves. His epic journey begins in 16th century Spain, where conquistador Tomás Creo (Hugh Jackman) commences his search for the Tree of Life, the legendary entity believed to grant eternal life to those who drink of its sap. As modern-day scientist Tommy Creo, he desperately struggles to find a cure for the cancer that is killing his beloved wife Isabel (Rachel Weisz). Traveling through deep space as a 26th century astronaut, Tom begins to grasp the mysteries of life that have consumed him for more than a century.
For more about The Fountain and the The Fountain Blu-ray release, see the The Fountain Blu-ray Review published by Sir Terrence on January 23, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Mark Margolis, Stephen McHattie, Sean Patrick Thomas
Director: Darren Aronofsky
» See full cast & crew
The Fountain Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Sir Terrence, January 23, 2009
The Fountain has is an interesting story both on, and off the screen. Off screen, it's a story of a movie that almost didn't get made. Originally approved by Warner on a budget of $70 million dollars, both Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett signed on for the project. As the project continued in pre-production, Warner became concerned about the ballooning size of the budget, and asked director Darren Aronofsky to come up with a co-financier for the project or it would be shut down. First Village Roadshow signed on to the project, but for unknown reasons, back out of the project. Finally Regency Enterprises signed on to the project, and the wheels appeared moving in the right direction. Pitt asked for some script revisions to the screenplay, which were not apparently acceptable to Aronofsky, and Pitt left the project several weeks before shooting was to commence. At that point the studio threatened once again to shut the project down. The script was sent to Russell Crowe, who turned it down. With sets built, and pre-production costs at $18 million dollars and no star for the male role, the studio finally shut down the project, auctioned off the sets and props, paid Blanchette for her time, fired the Australian crew, and basically that was that. That was June 2002. In February of 2004 Warner resurrected the project, and began courting Hugh Jackman to replace Pitt. Jackman accepted the job, as did Rachel Weisz. With a budget of $35 million dollars, "The Fountain" was finally on its way to completion.
"The Fountain" is told through three stories, all taking place in different times, interwoven together, and with the same purpose in mind. This is a story of love, desire, and immortality. The stories feature a 16th century Spanish Conquistador Tomas, Research oncologist Tommy Creo, and lastly Tom the dimensional traveler. All of the lead roles are played by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz
The Conquistador takes place in 16th century Spain and finds Tomas travelling to Mexico to find the Tree of Life. He believes this is the only thing that can save his country, and his Queen, Isabel. In his search he faces many hardships, such as a mutiny, an attack by Maya warriors, and a near fatal attack from a Mayan Priest. Will he find the Tree of Life and be able to save his country?
The Scientist takes place in modern times, and features Research oncologist Tommy Creo attempting to reverse brain tumors through research on monkeys. He is working feverishly for a cure to his wife Izzi's cancer. When test after test fails, Tommy decides to break protocols, and try an untested compound derived from a tree only found in Guatemala. He decides to try the compound on a monkey named Donovan. At first it looks like it's not going to work, but surprisingly it rejuvenates Donovan, heals his wounds, and improves his cognitive abilities. Will he be able to save Izzi from certain death?
Time traveler Tom is traveling towards a golden nebula in an ecosphereic spacecraft housing a dying tree. Kept young by compounds he gets from the tree's sap, he is haunted by visions of Izzi. The tree he is traveling with is the Tree of Life, of which he shares a bond with. He vows to get the Tree of Life to the golden nebula to rejuvenate it before it dies. Will he make it to the golden nebula before the tree dies?
As convoluted as this description implies, I found the storyline rather easy to follow. It is complex for sure, but not to the point where you are not able to tie all of the pieces together. These three stories are carefully intertwined together much like a finely weaved three piece braid in hair. It will most certainly hold up well over repeated viewings. There are a ton of themes and visual symbolism that runs through this film. One centers on the use of trees in the film. Queen Isabella's dress is designed to look like the roots of a tree in the scene where she and Tomas are talking. Also accentuated in that scene is the carved gate of intertwined branches. Another example is Tom the space traveler method for keeping time. Just like rings of a tree, he tattoo's a ring for each year he travels with the tree. Another prominent theme is immortality, as you have one story trying to save a tree from death, and another saving a woman from death. Another thing you notice, as the movie progresses along, the sets go from darker to much lighter sets towards the end symbolizing a characters awakening (intellectual or otherwise).
The Fountain Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Fountain soars on to the Bluray format in a 1080p/VC-1 encode, framed at a 1:85:1 aspect ratio. This is a pretty difficult read in terms of judging picture quality as the images are stylized, and are an intricate part of the storyline itself. I found no issues with the source, as there are no pops, scratches or any other film based artifacts. First thing you notice about watching this film is that colors just pop on screen. They are well saturated but very natural looking. Greens in the forest look lushly green, blood comes across looking naturally red and very lifelike, and gold that lines the throne room jumps off the screen. Detail and fine detail is first rate in spite of some scenes purposely shot a little soft. Background detail is excellent, and things like the bark on the tree of life have deep detail revealed for all to see. Check out each scene that has Tomas and Queen Isabel in them. The detail is stunningly good. Black levels are inky and deep and there is no sign of crush even though shadow detail can sometimes be concealed, especially at the beginning of the movie. As the film progresses, the overall light levels increase revealing better shadow detail, and even more overall detail. Contrast is very good, and any light object set against a black background shows that images have an excellent dynamic range and punch. Check out torches, fire, and lightening against the darkness is an excellent example of the dynamic punch of this film. This film shows exceptional depth of field, and at times I felt like I could reach into the screen, and my arm would go on forever into the background. Skin tones are natural, warm looking, and on occasion have a dreamlike quality that does not sacrifice facial details one bit. You will see every hair on men's faces, every wrinkle and rumple in clothing, and a weathered look in some of the actor's faces. I highly recommend that you watch this movie in a darkened room, as you see a lot more shadow detail in the beginning of the movie where it is the darkest. Nice job on the video
The Fountain Blu-ray, Audio Quality
For a movie with such a complex sound mix, I am surprised that Warner thought to use the lossy Dolby Digital format encoded at 640kbps data rate. This track is weaved together like a finely crafted quilt. You have scenes with multiple layers of dialog layered over each other creating a "Walla" like effect. There are times where there is dominating dialog easily discernable over layered background dialog, and whisper competing with ambient sound effects. There is not much panning (you do get a few circular pans, and a few front to back and visa versa), but effects are masterfully placed in each channel, and you always fell like you are in the middle of the mix. There is a nice delineation between real would effects, and the metaphysical ones. Clint Mansell score played by the Kronos Quartet (of my neck of the woods San Francisco) is very well recorded, begins very dark much like the visuals, and much like the visuals becomes brighter and brighter tonally and texturally in presenting its themes. The sound field is filled to the brim with music, dialog and effects, frequently using all the speakers simultaneously without creating a congealed mess. Localization is excellent and dynamic range quite good. Great visuals and great sound create a very balanced presentation, and Aronofsky should be applauded for his attention to detail on this release.
The Fountain Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Fountain: Death and Rebirth (SD-64 minutes) is divided into six sections, and features a "play all" function for uninterrupted viewing.
The Interview (12 minutes)
Featurette: Step by Step covers about a half a dozen visual effects, and shows how they are built each step of the way.
Featurette: Inside the Director's Mind (16 minutes)
Peter Parks Bonus – Macro Photography Loop (5 minutes) is an interesting screen saver like application set to piano music.
The Fountain Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I am going to say this; not everyone is going to enjoy this movie. It is very heady, and shares the same storytelling technique as "Mirrormask". It is slow, very detailed, extremely layered with themes, and makes you have to use your brain during viewing. I absolutely loved this movie, and like all of the movies I have, will watch it over and over. It is beautiful visually, sonically, and profound in the way it weaves the three different stories together into a central theme. I would highly recommend renting this first, and if you found it as satisfying as I did, then click on the Amazon link here at Bluray.com and buy away. Highly recommended!
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