The Fountain (2006): When Love and Death Intermingle

“All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses;
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.” -excerpt from ‘Song of Myself’ by Walt Whitman


Written by cellardoor


“Death is the road to Awe”

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Some say that people fall in love in order to escape death. With each heartbeat, we turn further and further away from the shadow of death and we try to reach for the golden sunlight of love, in which we strive to fully immerse ourselves.

In ‘The Fountain’ we become witnesses of an extraordinary tale spanning from the Middle Ages to the distant future. Three stories – one set in the past, one in the present and one in the future – harmoniously mingle and elucidate the quest of the main protagonists; to beat death through love.

In the past, the male protagonist is presented as a conquistador, who is looking for the Tree of Life in order to empower the dying reign of his Queen.

The Fountain HD images

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In the present, the man is transformed into a doctor, searching for the cure of his wife’s disease.

The Fountain HD images

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And in the future, the man is a spiritual being trying to come to terms with humanity’s fate.


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‘The Fountain’ is a philosophical journey into man’s psyche; in the beginning the search is mainly focused on life and its preservation by all means. As Dr. Creo says:”Death is a disease, it’s like any other. And there’s a cure. A cure – and I will find it”. But as the film continues we realise that life, although highly valuable as it may be, would be nothing without death’s existence; for death is not the opposite of life, but rather, its counterpart.

In one specific scene of the film the Queen says: ” For every shadow, no matter how deep, is threatened by morning light”. Light and darkness become here but also in the film in general, symbols of life and death. They are not, however, strictly bound to one symbolic association; for example, when Izzie is overcome by her illness and falls to the ground unconscious, she is surrounded by a mist of white light. We could assume then that the film’s symbolism endeavours to show how life is mixed with death – these two notions are not strictly separated but they intermingle, caught eternally into a quick-paced dance rather than a fight.

‘The Fountain’ is a movie that baffles its audience not because it has a complicated structure or a refined and fast-paced plot, but because its core is deeply philosophical and ‘human’. It pushes the viewer to reach the ultimate realisation of life, a realisation that is not, however, in the least easy to confront. “I’m going to die!” the man in the year 2500 exclaims, and all we have to do in order to appreciate life is to follow his example. For if not for death, would we be able to love? If not for death, would life be as sweet as it is now?

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