The Fountain was one of the most creative movies on existentialism I have seen in a long time. The movies moves between time periods, but does so in a most cohesive way and shows the characters interactions through two different times. The symbolism is fantastic, particularly the Tree of Life and its history and some fantastic Buddhist meditation scenes that occur in a mandala, the circle of life.
Hugh Jackman plays a man bent on saving his ill wife from her demise who is often too busy to offer her the precious time she needs to just “be” with him. His wife writes a book called “The Fountain” that details his past life journey and leaves him the last chapter to complete for her when she dies. The book of life, the tree of life, all of these have been mentioned in myth and fable over time. And of course, so has the magic fountain of youth, the preserving of our precious selves. We are often so focused on that end that we do not enjoy the life in front of us. This reminds us that life is fleeting and we need to participate actively in it, or feel it’s’ tragic loss more bitterly for not doing so. There are two other lives the protagonist Thomas attends, one in 16th century Spain, and another in a biosphere in the year 2500. All of these focus on the existential question haunting man….are we immortal?
This existential film blends elements of fantasy, history, religion, and science fiction in its intricate construction. This movies imagery offers us many symbolic representations of death and the life process as well. The use of snow as death imagery, the use of a nonlinear filming also makes it a cinematic representation of the circle of life. What lies beyond the exterior? This appears to be a very critical motif in this movie. We spend our lives in constant reflection of the past and concern over the future thereby missing the present moment to do the work that is necessary for our growth and also that in relation to the other.