Question: What do a 16th-century conquistador, a 21st-century medical researcher, and a 26th-century astronaut have in common?
Answer: A longing for eternal life.
That's the premise of Darren Aronofsky's three-strand film The Fountain. In this dazzling new science fiction mind-bender, we learn that our sufferings are caused by our separation from the Tree of Life mentioned in the book of Genesis.
Hugh Jackman, in his most challenging role to date, plays Tommy Creo, a present-day scientist laboring zealously in a laboratory to find a cure for cancer. There's a reason for his determination—his beautiful young wife, Izzy, is suffering from an aggressive brain tumor. Science, Tom believes, is the only way to save her. More specifically, the bark of a mysterious South American tree may be the miracle cure he's been seeking.
But in his frantic rush to find the answer, Tom is missing out on what may be Izzy's last days. His quest illustrates what can happen when fear overpowers love. He's right to desire her healing, but clearly this cure-seeking obsession is narrowing his vision, so that he neglects Izzy's need for intimacy and spiritual healing as well.
Meanwhile, Izzy—played by the radiant Rachel Weisz—is responding to her affliction with art. She's composing a novel that dramatizes her own soul-searching. And that narrative provides The Fountain's second thread—the story of the queen and the conquistador.
In scenes from Izzy's novel, filmed in extravagant detail and color, Queen Isabel of Spain (Weisz, again) is besieged by Inquisitors who belong to a Gnostic distortion of the Christian church. This crusading church believes that the spirit cannot be saved unless the body is deplored, abused, and cast aside. ...