Darren Aronofsky's gorgeous, time-bending epic The Fountain is arriving on DVD today, and I recently had a chance to sit down and watch it on a small screen for the first time, after seeing it six or seven times in theaters last fall. My original verdict -- that it was one of the five best films of 2006 -- still holds up, although I have to say that its greatest strength lies in its amazing visuals, so it needs to be seen in the theater first. If you're watching it for the first time on the small screen, you're really missing a crucial part of the experience, especially where the final segment is concerned. There are too many distractions in a home environment -- or in mine, at least -- to allow you to wrap yourself up in the serene starscape as Tommy (Hugh Jackman) and Tree Izzy (Rachel Weisz) ride their pod-bubble into the maw of a nebula. If you just did a double-take on that last sentence, don't worry -- it's not quite as trippy as it sounds.
The film -- and I'm sure that I'll get some argument even on this -- only exists in the present day, or 2000 A.D., rather. Tommy, a medical doctor who (I hope) has a license to operate on monkeys in order to study their brains, is using his research to try and find a cure for the disease that is ravaging the body of his wife, Izzy. Meanwhile, Izzy is trying her hand at writing a fantasy novel about a conquistador in sixteenth-century Spain who is set off by the Spanish Queen to find the elixir of life, contained in a special South American tree. This fictional story, which is played out in The Fountain as being as real as the present day segment, eventually jumps from 1500 A.D. to 2500 A.D. The story is now being written by Tommy instead of Izzy for plot reasons, so he finishes it with his own flourish. So, in essence, the story isn't fantastical at all, because all the fantasy elements are 'book sequences.' Anyone want to argue with that plot description?