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Showing 1-13 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 21, 2008, 1:06:19 PM PST
truedub74 says:
I understand the flick but for a few scenes: the end where the tree dies. it seems tragic but then a few minutes later when the star goes supernova it seems hopeful, like maybe they'll actually be able to be together forever. so does izzy as the tree live or die (before the supernova)? also, i don't get the scene where we see (future) tom meditating in front of the mayan guy at the end; izzy's story 'the fountain' (in the film's universe) is fiction so what does future future tom have to do with the mayan guy? the scene looks good (great actually) but doesn't seem to serve the story. your insight is appreciated.

btw, i adore the flick.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 22, 2008, 4:38:33 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 22, 2008, 4:41:19 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2008, 10:09:22 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 25, 2008, 10:12:02 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 7, 2008, 11:02:34 AM PST
J.M.L says:
In order to understand the ending, you need to understand that the ending transcends the physical/real world into the meditative/philosophical.

Reality (as in the material world) and spiritual/meditative (as in beliefs and cognitive thinking) must be viewed as an attachment of each other, as if they are the same thing if you will, but distinctively separate at the same time.

What do I mean? Well, for example, water can be both ice and steam, yet each one is made of the same properties. Also, look at the trinity: God, man (flesh), spirit, are all the same, but distinctively different. It is important to understand this relationship between the physical world and the spiritual word, how one can transcend into the other, but are both distinctive realms. If you can understand that, then you will be better prepared to understand and appreciate the magnitude and beauty of the movie's ending.

Before I answer your question, it is important to look at the portrayal and evolution of Tommy's character, which is reflected in the differences in his name (Tomas, Tommy, Tom Creo). Although Tomas, is a fictional character in Izzy's story, Tomas represents the "real" Tommy in the material world. Likewise, Tom Creo is Tommy hundreds of years into the future. You can see the difference of what time, his nostalgic memories of Izzy, and his fear of death have transformed him from Tommy into Tom Creo. (Now, this is important in understanding the final moments in the movie, which I attempt to explain)

To your questions:

It is assumed that the tree that Tom Creo (future Tom) is traveling through space with is in fact Izzy. You are meant to infer this when Tommy is seen planting the seed over her grave, which you are also meant to assume that the seed he planted was the one he derived his medical/scientific breakthroughs from in order to reverse aging and illness.

So, yes the tree does die, which means that Izzy dies for a second time. It does seem tragic to Tom Creo because he still hasn't understood what Izzy was telling him all along-death is only the beginning, and with death always brings new life; it is a cycle. Izzy, before she died, had come to terms with her own death, which is why she never finished the last chapter. For this reason, Izzy tells Tommy to finish the story - their story. She leaves the last chapter for Tommy to "finish it." Izzy knows that he will finish the story when he is ready to come to terms with his own fear of death.

Future Tom has spent hundreds of years, represented by the black tattooed rings on his body (much like the ring of a tree) since Izzy's death traveling through time, avoiding and running from death, the disease. But his memories of Izzy, which are visual manifestations to us, finally make him suck it up and attempt to finish the last chapter of "their story."

Tom could have easily finished the last chapter with the antiqued fountain pen, and the book that was thrown about somewhere in his organic spaceship, but his journey to "finish it" becomes more than just inscription, but a real and spiritual journey. After all the years running, he finally understands that life must be completed through death. So he is able to complete the story for himself (as Tomas, Tommy, and Tom Creo).

The power of the mind is unmatchable. You can rewrite history with your thoughts, which is what Tom Creo does as the end of the film. Tom Creo is finishing the story, through meditation, while he physically travels toward Xibalba, literally translated as Place of Fear, to finally face death and embrace it. While he mentally finishes the story, he writes the ending for the conquistador, finding the tree of life, living eternally, but dying in the process.

This is where the realms transcend into one another. Because Future Tom has reached an epiphany (in reality), he becomes the "father" the all knowing meditating in front of the Mayan (fictional/spiritual). He has become enlightened.

This is how Future Tom is able to take the wedding band from the conquistador, which when you see Future Tom again looks like Tommy. Future Tom evolved and enlightened back into Tommy, who was spiritually lost over the years in his search, and becomes the original man that Izzy loved, the man she originally told and knew would "finish" the story.

This movie is wonderful, brilliant, an inspiring. It truly captures the fears we face as mortal creatures in life and death.

I hope I helped!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 7, 2008, 1:15:12 PM PST
truedub74 says:
thanks a bunch for taking the time to reply to my post! like i said i do understand the flick for the most part (i make many of the same points as you in my [3 star] review of the flick.. check it out if you get a chance..). i can accept your explanation of the ending because part of the films brilliance is that it allows for viewer interpretation. i'm something of a literalist when it comes to the art of storytelling so i generally look for more concrete and definite conclusions, connections, and the film certainly doesnt provide many - but again, the fact the the thing still works as a satisfying piece of entertainment is a testament to the brilliance of the filmmakers.
BUT i do strongly disagree with you statement about the trinity and God, man, and the spirit being one but different. that is a false religious doctrine designed to keep people from developing a personal relationship with their god. God the Father is one. Jesus is the firstborn of all his creation, and the Holy Spirit is the active force he uses to accomplish his will throughout the universe. we worship God, we imitate Jesus, and we yield to the holy spirit.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2009, 5:41:10 AM PST
Reader says:
Thank you!

I have watched the movie so many times and yet I never fast-forward any scenes because the story and characterizations are so compelling that I don't seem to want to miss anything everytime I view the film. It has become part of a personal experience, almost like a benediction when Tom Creo finally comes to terms with the eternal question of what death means. But your explanation has made my appreciation of the story even more profound and more inspired.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 24, 2009, 9:43:10 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 24, 2009, 10:14:39 AM PST
truedub74: BUT i do strongly disagree with you statement about the trinity and God, man, and the spirit being one but different. that is a false religious doctrine designed to keep people from developing a personal relationship with their god. God the Father is one. Jesus is the firstborn of all his creation, and the Holy Spirit is the active force he uses to accomplish his will throughout the universe. we worship God, we imitate Jesus, and we yield to the holy spirit.

..... which again, just like interpreting a movie, is your personal opinion and interpretation on God, spirit, and man. I happen to strongly disagree with your views and I believe we are all one. Part of the beauty of being human. we all have our individual beliefs. :)

Posted on Mar 9, 2009, 3:18:51 PM PDT
Greg S says:
"J. Mahan says:" << nice thoughtful writing, I will revisit a few times and ponder your interpretation.

Posted on Mar 29, 2009, 8:05:51 AM PDT
C. Martin says:
I liked the film a lot. The structure of the film is a puzzle, but there is only one solution and it is very simple and strait-forward (i.e. no confusing and pompous metaphysical arguments involved). I was confused until I read Roger Ebert's review of the film, which gives the solution to the puzzle. I'll briefly paraphrase it below:

The only "real" part of story is the timeline that takes place in the present. The past timeline is the first 11 chapters of novel written by Izzy, and the spaceship timeline is the last chapter that is written by Tom the scientist. Both the past and the future timelines are *fictional events* described in the novel. It's that simple. Imagine you're reading the completed text of novel - chapter 11 ends with the Tomas about to be killed by the heathen guardian of the tree of life, and then chapter 12 begins with a man named Captain Tom alone on spaceship in outer space. There is nothing written in the novel in-between these two events. Keep in mind that present day Tom (the only "real" Tom) is a mad scientist with a broken heart, not a proper novelist like his wife, so it makes sense that the chapter he writes in the novel would abruptly turn an otherwise normal book about a spanish queen and conquistador into a wacky science fiction love story that is reflective of his research interests and his painful emotional state. The movie is very simple when you remember that the past and future timelines are fictional events that take place in a novel being written by the Tom and Izzy Creo. The fictional timelines are only meant to add depth and texture the "real story" which is a normal, non-science fiction, non-metaphysical narrative about a man trying to cope with his wife's death.

When I re-watched the film after reading the solution, I found the story to be more simple, accessible, and powerful than in my original viewing, mostly because the ridiculous proposition of a man flying into a star with a his dead wife's spirit trapped inside a tree was so much easier to digest knowing its not a real event, but rather the overactive imagination of a man torn apart by grief.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2009, 7:17:45 AM PDT
J.M.L says:
If we were to assume your postulate true: that Future Tom was fictional, then we would find many of the parts of the movie contradict with each other.

First, everyone should look for the broader theme of the movie: life and death. Yes, this is a love story, but it is not the core of the movie.

Second, Darren Aronofsky, the mastermind behind this movie, is very skillful and unique in his directing sequences. If you are not familiar with his work then it might be confusing, but there are three stories going on at the same time:

(1) Tomas the conquistador and Queen Isabella (Past-Fictional)
(2) Tommy and Izzy (Present-Real)
(3) Tom Creo (Future-Real)

It is important to look at the portrayal and evolution of Tommy's character, which is reflected in the differences in his name (Tomas, Tommy, Tom Creo). Although Tomas is a fictional character in Izzy's story, Tomas represents the "real" Tommy in the material world. Likewise, Tom Creo is Tommy hundreds of years into the future. You can see the difference of time, his nostalgic memories of Izzy, and his fear of death that have transformed him from Tommy into Tom Creo.

Assuming that Future Tom in your interpretation is fictional, it does not account for the many "real" memories and items that are present in his future spaceship, such as the tattooed rings (the first one being performed after he lost his wedding band), the seed that he plants over Izzy's grave that has now grown into a tree, the original fountain pen, the leather-bound "story" Izzy wrote before she died, etc.

This leads me to my next point that Future Tom is not the last chapter in the book. The whole movie centers on the idea that Tommy could never "finish" the story because he was so emotionally stunted by his fear of death. But his memories of Izzy in his spaceship, which are visual manifestations to us, finally make him suck it up and attempt to finish the last chapter of "their story." That is why the ending of the movie is so phenomenal because the last chapter is "death" both figuratively and literraly. After all the years running from his fear, he finally understands that life must be completed through death; so he completes the story for himself and each one of his identities as Tomas, Tommy, and Tom Creo.

Besides, your assuming things in order to come to your own conclusions. Just because Izzy happens to write a short story to help her husband overcome her death doesn't mean that she's a preeminent novelist; and that is a far leap to make to explain why Tommy can't keep up with her writing style. He is a scientist, who does research, and I would venture to say probably writes academic journals. But that doesn't really matter.

Did you ever read the book or see the movie P.S. I Love You? It is the same thing. Izzy is just helping her husband deal with the loss he will bear, but since she has come to terms with dying she leaves the last chapter for him to write. He has to accept death as a continuation of life if he is able to heal and move on.

Your interpretation might simplify the movie, but it doesn't account for many of the clues and keys that Darren Aronofsky gives to his viewers to help solve this puzzle.

Besides, why is it a ridiculous proposition for a man to be able to fly in an organic spaceship? Hollywood has spoon-fed people into believing that all spaceships have to be silver and disc-shaped.

Why is it ridiculous for a scientist to find a cure for aging?

And most importantly, why is it ridiculous for you to believe in rebirth? The whole context of this movie centers on the Mayan philosophy of death. There is no overactive imagination; Tommy is not going crazy. Historically, the Mayans who died were laid to rest with maize placed in their mouth. Maize, highly important in Mayan culture, is a symbol of rebirth, as well as was food for the dead as they journey to the netherworld. I may not believe in Mayan religious mysticism, as you may not, but it doesn't mean that it is not real for them, or Izzy and Tommy.

The answers are all there in the movie divided into different sections. Making assumptions because the context of the movie seems too surreal for you doesn't help you solve the riddle, it merely stunts it. It is up to us to put the pieces together. If you watch Darren Aronofsky's other movies, you will see that nothing he does is simple, nothing he does will make sense at first, but with time and a lot of thought he always enlightens his viewers.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2009, 9:47:59 AM PDT
C. Martin says:
You make interesting points but I'm still not convinced. This link is the one that I read which convinced me, and if you read it you may see why it makes the most sense:
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070914/COMMENTARY/70914001

I've seen the other aranofsky films, and plotwise they're all very strait forward (pi a little less so, but requiem and wrestler easy to follow). Fountain is not so much more complicated than the others, especially when you realize it only takes place in the present, and the other two timelines are fictional.

In conclusion, let's review the key features of the fountain:
Past: Imaginary things happen = FICTION
Present: Nothing imaginary happends = REAL
Future: Imaginary things happen = FICTION

As for the Mayan metaphysics and his rebirth at the star or whatever, I don't think its not important, but it should only be viewed in the limited context of being part of Tommy's book rather than a real event. According to Aranafsky, it's not the most important part of the movie, which he says is the moment when Tommy refuses to go for a walk with Izzy in the snow (which unsurprisingly was a scene from the only "real" timeline).

Posted on Jul 12, 2009, 10:03:47 AM PDT
SPOILERS *** SPOILERS *** SPOILERS *** SPOILERS ***

This is my take, which uses reality as the reference frame, as others have:
*Starts with Hugh as a Conquistador searching for the Fountain of Youth/Tree of Life in the fictional novel nearly completed but left unfinished by his dying wife, Rachel (Weisz)
*He proceeds in a mind-expedition in the fictional world until jolted out of the situation into the reality of Rachel's condition
*He transits between three states of knowledge/existence -- the real world in which he is an animal medical researcher, the mental environment of the novel written by his wife in which he is a Spanish explorer, and some hallucinatory state that is a mystical astral projection into the myth of regeneration as described to him by his wife -- in this state he is a space-traveller haunted by a ghost.
*In the real state, he attempts to use a botanical substance found in Central America that has amazing regenerative qualities to attempt to find a cure for his wife's brainstem tumor. In the novel-fictional mind state, he explores his wife's rendition of the search for eternal life/love while also forging an ending as she asked him to do. In the mystical mind state he finds revelation, but not necessarily the truth, and some horror in not getting everything he wished for, in a duality of the existence of consciousness as compared to the biological recycling of material parts of the body.
*I'm not totally sure what happened at the end. It was sort of vague to me, but it was material already covered by other movies in the recent past. I think Hugh realized that his connection to his wife would be through his memories, her novel (her mind embedded in the fiction she wrote), and physically by the tree he plants over her grave. I think the "dying of the tree" that is Rachel before it reaches the nebula was a statement that Hugh did not surrender his grasp of the grim reality of death.

The movie's structure/themes also reminded me of another movie starring Ryan Gosling and Naomi Watts in which an accident occurs and people who love each other happen to be separated. I actually found the other movie more compelling and less obvious and predictable, but maybe it's because I saw that other movie first.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2011, 10:11:36 PM PDT
Too Right says:
That's a terrible novel. Chapter 11 ends with Tomas about to be killed by the Mayan, then Chapter 12 begins with the story of a future TOM CREO in space?

This is one of the most common misconceptions about the plot: that Future Tom is the end of the novel. But the novel is about a conquistador, not Tom Creo. The end of the novel is the end of the Tomas story as depicted in the film.
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Initial post:  Feb 21, 2008
Latest post:  Jul 8, 2011

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