At its core, The Fountain is the story of a 21st century man, Tom, (Hugh Jackman), losing his wife Izzi (Rachel Weisz) to cancer in 2005. As she is dying, Izzi begs Tommy to share what time they have left together, but he is focused on his quest to find a cure for her.
While he's working in the lab, she writes a story about 16th century Queen Isabella losing her territory to the Inquisition while her betrothed, conquistador Tomás, plunges through the Central America forest in Mayan territory, searching for the Tree of Life for his Queen.
Since she doesn't have time herself, Izzi asks Tommy to finish the story for her. As they look out to the stars, she imagines that their souls will meet there when the star dies. And we see astronaut Tom, in 2500, traveling there for the event, in a spaceship made of an enclosed biosphere containing the Tree of Life.
The three story lines are told nonlinearly, each separated by five centuries. The three periods are interwoven with match cuts and recurring visual motifs; Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz play the main characters for all three narratives. Even within a given narrative, the elements of that particular story are not told in chronological order.
Whether these stories are actual events, or symbolic, is not clarified; and, Director Darren Aronofsky emphasized that the storylines in their time periods and their respective convergences were open to interpretation.
The director has said of The Fountain's intricacy and underlying message, "The film is very much like a Rubik's Cube, where you can solve it in several different ways, but ultimately there's only one solution at the end."
The Fountain is a 2006 American romantic drama film, which blends elements of fantasy, history, religion, and science fiction. It is directed by Darren Aronofsky, and stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. The film comprises three storylines where Jackman and Weisz play different sets of characters: a modern-day scientist and his cancer-stricken wife, a conquistador and his queen, and a space traveler in the future who hallucinates his lost love. The storylines—interwoven with use of match cuts and recurring visual motifs—reflect the themes of love and mortality.
Aronofsky originally planned to direct The Fountain on a $70 million budget with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in the lead roles, but Pitt's withdrawal and cost overruns led Warner Bros. to shut down production. The director rewrote the script to be sparser, and was able to resurrect the film with a $35 million budget with Jackman and Weisz in the lead roles. Production mainly took place on a sound stage in Montreal, Quebec, and the director used macro photography to create key visual effects for The Fountain at a low cost.
The film was released theatrically in the United States and Canada on November 22, 2006. It grossed $10,144,010 in the United States and Canada and $5,761,344 in other territories for a worldwide total of $15,978,422. Critics' reactions to the film were divided.