I’m just back from my first visit to the Cube Microplex Cinema here in Bristol. It’s criminal that it’s taken me so long to visit – it’s a great little venue, with warmth and atmosphere. As it was, I couldn’t have chosen a better personal premiere.
It’s always a treat to go to see something that you’re pretty sure is going to be enjoyable, at least, but something about which you know next to nothing. Darren Aronofksy’s The Fountain had somehow managed to elude my radar until Cat asked me if I wanted to go and see it the other day. So I don’t want to spoil anything for you. I’m more and more conscious of hyping films these days, more and more aware of how damaging and skewing it can be. But sometimes you’ve just got to recommend something.
The Fountain is a love story, but resolutely non-sappy without being boring or tortured. It layers narratives distanced by time in a way that teases you into trying to piece together the “real” narrative. As long as you keep your metaphorical multiplicity to hand, these attempts will lead you deeper into the film rather than further from it; it makes sense in some linear ways without losing the resonance of its layering.
Its special effects are stunning. Virtually no CGI was used, and the astonishing outer space sequences were created by photographing chemical reactions under a microscope (which works wonderfully technically, as well as poetically). Both Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz are brilliant in the lead roles.
Most fascinating to me was the use of Mayan myth and cosmology; creative and yet accurate, blending Christian myths about the New World with Mayan understanding of death in a hugely compelling way.
It’s a fable about the literalist quests of Christianity and science, and “a love poem to death”, as someone called it; an alchemical rapture on celluloid.