Every now and then a film is made, unconventionally, ingeniously, un-apologetically elaborated-yet-simple and without much hype that it has to wait several years to be hailed as a cult classic. These movies fail to garner attention initially but rockets to fame after a DVD release/re-release revoking discussion forums & reviewers alike. David Fincher does it time and again and ‘Fight Club’ is one of the biggest examples. Still, there are some films which has more of the aforementioned qualities yet largely go unnoticed and under-rated just because even the veteran of an audience aren’t matured enough to accept a simple film making alteration or an unconventional storyline. Audiences are not to be blamed. Reveling or remotely enjoying these kinda movies works something like ‘Acquired Taste’.
“An acquired taste often refers to an appreciation for a food or beverage that is unlikely to be enjoyed by a person who has not had substantial exposure to it, usually because of some unfamiliar aspect of the food or beverage, including a strong or strange odor, taste, or appearance.” These movies begs to be enjoyed so and most people haven’t got the patience or endurance to sit through till the end. I sincerely sympathize of them.
One such film is Darren Aronofsky’s ‘The Fountain’. It’s that rare masterpiece, which due to studio budgets, had to be filmed unconventionally and using simple film making techniques rather than beefing it up with CG and expensive shots. ‘The Fountain’ is an unadulterated blend of 3 genres: Romance, Drama & Sci-fi. Romance being the predominant genre told the story of a husband and wife, the husband’s grief over a lost wife being the drama and his search for the ‘answers of them all’ being the third genre ie Sci-fi. Spanning over thousands of years this movie has got some really captive imagery and music that grasps my audio-visual senses when I am watching it.
Darren always had a way with his movies. His movies are something we have seen or heard never before; Hell, we wouldn’t even have thought of it ever before and thus the novelty in his movies keeps you intrigued. His movies are neither convoluted nor over-the-top. Its simple to follow yet taken aesthetically and in his own signature style. Take ‘Requiem For a Dream’ as an example, it followed the story of 4 individuals’ lives when drugs becomes part of their daily life. The way their lives intertwines is in itself amusing. And talk about the exasperating finale, Requiem is one of the best movies ever made. Period! His more recent ‘Black Swan’ also had a similar touch when he played with multiple personality disorders in a ballet dancer. Ofcourse ‘Black Swan’ did get its fair share of attention, nominated for Academdy Awards for Best Film, Direction, Cinematography, Editing and even won the lead Natalie Portman an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Coming back to our core topic, Darren previously planned to make this movie on a $70 million flick starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett with extensive use of CG. Though it was shelved after Brad Pitt called it quits and due to some financial constraints. “I knew it was a hard film to make and I said at least if Hollywood fucks me over at least I’ll make a comic book out of it.” said Darren when the initial movie production was cancelled and the script was salvaged to a fine graphic novel illustrated by Kent Williams. The graphic novel, does have a lot of additions from the final movie. Each panel brings the characters to life; its unlike those fine printed superhero comic books, this one felt like it was hand-drawn (which I am pretty sure it would be), the strokes of which faltered giving it that essential spectral feel to it.
Yeah, I do own a copy! DUH!
Darren decided to skim down both the script and the budget to $35 million with Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz in the lead and it did wonders indeed. Hugh and Rachel, I believe was perfect for the cast. This movie was solely on the shoulders of these 2 astounding actors, they had to play 3 different character and they pulled it beyond imagination. Instead of heavy CG, Darren used macro photography for special effects. The movie also deals with a topics such as disease, faith, Tree of Life, Fountain of Youth and above all things, DEATH. As controversial as it can get, not many directors can get away being ambiguous about these topics, Nolan could have and Darren also proves to be one among them. But at its heart, The Fountain is about Love, Tommy and Izzis romance that spans aeons and nobody could have brought justice to those roles other than Hugh & Rachel. Clint Mansel’s heavenly soundtrack also contributed to the orgasmic audio-visual experience. The way each of his compositions touches your heart and soul, makes you feel very much in sync with the protagonists of the movie itself.
‘The Fountain’ is and will be one of his very best movies. I remember suggesting this movie to many of my friends and all I’d received were scoffs after them watching around 10 minutes of it. As I said I really wish they’d be a bit more open to unconventional film making. There’s a reason why this movie has a cult following; it’s appreciated among anybody who’s into ART, if you invest some time and emotion in watching it, I assure you WILL love and relish this movie. I know, I have left out alot in this article, but the sheer scope of this movie is beyond words.