When it hit the screen in 2006, ‘The Fountain’ failed at the box office by grossing $16.5 million against a $35 million budget. It also received mixed reviews from the audience and critics but ended up as number 484 on Empire’s 500 Greatest Films of All Time in 2016, with a plot focusing on death and creation.
The film presented Tom Creo’s perspective on mortality, brought on by the illness and loss of his wife, Izzi. Director Darren Aronofsky structured the story across different periods, casting Hugh Jackman in three roles: Tomás Verde, a 16th-century Spanish conquistador searching for the Fountain of Youth, and Tommy, a future space traveler attempting to revive Izzi using the energy of a dying star.
While Tom tried to heal his wife’s brain tumor at the beginning of the movie by experimenting on monkeys, Izzi, as an author, wrote a book inspired by the Mayan myth of the Tree of Life, created by the sacrifice of the first father. She asked her husband to finish the story about Tomás Verde and his lover, Queen Isabella, as he refused to do so due to his denial of death.
The film showed his inner struggle with the idea through the Space Traveler, who repeatedly saw the reflections of Izzi, while the ending saw Tomás find the Tree of Life and drink its sap, only to die and turn into flowers and grass.
Following that, Tommy accepted death upon Izzi/Queen’s wish and approached the dying star in a smaller bubble by climbing the tree. He put on his ring to create a new life with the explosion by sacrificing himself.
By the conclusion of ‘The Fountain,’ Hugh Jackman’s character stopped seeing death as a force to fight against and started to accept it as a way to reconnect with his late wife. This shift reflected itself through the Space Traveler’s bubble, which served as a representation of Tom’s mental and emotional state.
The scenes with the future setting also served as the last chapter of Izzi’s book, as Tommy wrote it as a part of his late wife’s final wish. On the other hand, Aronofsky left ‘The Fountain’ open for viewer interpretation while discussing it in the past.