Movie Review: The Fountain
The Spanish ambition of Tomas Creo led this character to slaughter natives while on his path to find the tree that would save Spain. The asshole director, Darren Aronofsky, filmed a scene where the Chief Indian bows down to this white man and asks for his throat to be cut in order for the white guy Tomas to pursue his goal. What kind of shit is that!? No native will ever bow down to a white guy, even less expose his neck to one.
I've seen David Aronofsky's Pi and found it to be a curious muddle. The Fountain seems to be a more sophisticated version of the same elliptical storytelling.
Vinicio's rating for The Fountain: 2/10 stars.
Writerfella here --
Not having yet seen the film, THE FOUNTAIN, writerfella cannot comment out of darkness. But he did read the trail of travail the writer/director went through just to get the film produced. Somewhere along the line, Brad Pitt said vote me in and the project took off. But the studio never was satisfied with the screenplay, so Brad dropped out to do films that were guaranteed to be made. Finally, Aronofsky found some backers, netted Hugh Jackman by putting Rachel Weisz (Mrs. Aronofsky) in the lead female role, and then rewrote the screenplay from front to back so that it was shorter and less expensive. More or less like Steven Soderberg's remake of SOLARIS, THE FOUNTAIN seems (by the reviews anyway) doomed to an auteur's scrap pile, with HEAVEN'S GATE and WATERWORLD and INCHON and BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES and ISHTAR to keep it company...
I've seen "Waterworld". It does not live down to its "Ishtar"-like reputation. It's an OK movie, if you like "Road Warrior"-type movies (and I do).
I agree with "not a sioux." Waterworld is a good movie and far superior to the unwatchable Ishtar. That it went over budget and bombed at the box office doesn't impugn its quality.
Writerfella here --
Now having seen the film (my cousin the photojournalist and I took it in this afternoon [the 27th]), writerfella knows that a vast misinterpretation has occurred, Nada. In the scenes where the psychotemporal traveler is a Conquistadore, the Mayan DOES NOT bow down to the white man but, as is historically recorded, he bows to what he believes is the First Father, a returned god who sacrificed himself to create the Maya's Tree of Life that is guarded by the people. The legends of these gods were that they one day would return and create more worlds than this one for the people. The appearance of white men in their midsts only was seen as their long-awaited gods returning. And so the priest offers himself for death so that he also might create a world. To the Maya, both sacrifice and death are those factors upon which worlds are built, but the white man's response is to satisfy the white man's desire by slaying him. Then he goes out and finds the Tree of Life, stabs it with the dagger that was a map, and drinks the healing, life-extending sap from the tree. Destiny overrules all and the white man finds himself being consumed and killed by thousands of new flowered shoots that will become a whole forest of Trees of Life.
The entire film treats with the EuroMan legends of the Garden of Eden, where Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge but was barred by a sword that burns in all directions from reaching the Tree of Life. Thus, man is the only species to have full realization that he and all like him will die. And so his history-long quest is for eternal life, only to find that love is the closest he ever will come to it. And death takes even that away...
On writerfella's sci-fi movie scale, THE FOUNTAIN gets an 87 because the three parallel stories are not spoon-fed to the audience and instead mostly are told in images, which is the whole reason movies even exist at all. It might have rated higher had it not been for the resemblance of the space-travel sequences to the film SILENT RUNNING. But still it made writerfella think and that was pleasant indeed.
First, the Maya civilization no longer existed and the Maya Indians were scattered by the time the Spaniards arrived. The invaders dealt primarily with the Aztecs and their vassals, not with the Maya.
Second, the most well-known case of Mesoamericans awaiting white-skinned gods was the Aztec myth of Quetzalcoatl. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about that:
It has been widely believed that the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II initially believed the landing of Hernán Cortés in 1519 to be Quetzalcoatl's return. This has been questioned by many ethnohistorians (e.g. Matthew Restall 2001) who argue that the Quetzalcoatl-Cortés connection is asserted in no documents created independently of post-Conquest Spanish influence, and that there is little proof of a pre-Hispanic belief in Quetzalcoatl's return. Most documents expounding this theory are of entirely Spanish origin, such as Cortés's letters to Charles V of Spain, in which Cortés goes to great pains to present the naïve gullibility of the Mexicans in general as a great aid in his conquest of Mexico.
I bet the movie used the Maya rather than the Aztecs because Westerners perceive the Maya as purer and more spiritual than the bloody, warlike Aztecs. According to this view, the Maya are noble savages (at least until Apocalypto arrives). The Aztecs are just savages.
In any case, the movie seems to conflate Maya concepts of death and rebirth with the Western concept of the Tree of Life. In reality, from what I've read, the Maya religion was much more complex than Christianity. Portraying the two as overlapping or related or coequal has the effect of homogenizing or dumbing down the Maya beliefs.
Writerfella here --
From the white man's poleaxed view of history of the New World, that might be believable, except for writerfella's own Kiowa knowledge, which he knows devolved from the knowledge of the Maya. In one of the Kiowan legends, an Ah-day Mahton, a much-beloved girl who is never allowed to touch the ground, is left on a bison robe in a flowering tree to hide her from an enemy. Her body is nourished by the tree and her limbs, made useless by her not being allowed to do anything for herself, are cured of their infirmities by the tree's touch. Then a bird with fiery feathers appears in the tree above her and she begins to climb, following the bird because she wishes to touch it. At last, she climbs its branches until she passes through the clouds into a land that exists in the sky itself. There she finds a world not too dissimilar to the one she left and there even are animals there. And she meets a handsome young Native man who feeds her, then romances her, and they pronounce themselves married. Later, after she has had twin boys, she asks to revisit her own world and is refused. But when the man is off hunting, she takes her children to the branches of the tree and begins to climb down. The man returns and yells down after her to return. She refuses and he drops firebrands that catch the tree afire. She finally throws her sons into brush near the base of the tree and then is caught in the flames that consume the tree entirely. The boys try to find her but there is nothing left. Then, a fresh sprout grows up out of the ashes and the boys know that she has become the replacement for the tree. Eventually, they are found by the Kiowas and they tell who their mother was, going with the tribe when it leaves to follow the bison.
Now if that is a dumbed-down version of the Tree of Life story, writerfella will take it any day over the white man's stories that tell of a promised redemption he never will achieve.
And if the Spaniards had but little contact with the post-Mayans, then who burned the Mayan Codices and called them blasphemous? Some asshole director?
Writerfella here --
POSTSCRIPTUM: the Mayan Codices were burned by Catholic priests in every location that could be found, sparing only a few of the volumes that dealt with cooking and medicinals. It is estimated that the knowledge destroyed exceeded that of the Library at Alexandria by a factor of five.
rob said- "I bet the movie used the Maya rather than the Aztecs because Westerners perceive the Maya as purer and more spiritual than the bloody, warlike Aztecs"
I think it is simpler: the Maya have always had a much more mysterious aura about them, which makes them more interesting to use in fantastic works. After all, who gets mentioned in the old Galactica intro? The Aztecs, or the Maya?
I think you've merely rephrased what I said, "not a sioux." I meant something similar.
I hope The Fountain didn't show Tomas dealing with a Maya priest atop a Maya pyramid. If it did, that was surely an anachronism.
I read a book on Maya cosmology and I don't remember a story like that, Russ. I still suspect the movie combined Christian and Maya beliefs into a theological mishmash.
As you described it, the scene reminds me of the events noted in When (the Christian) God made the Dakotas. Kessler's book combined Christian and Native beliefs to the detriment of the latter. I bet The Fountain did something similar.
Finally, the Spanish priests found and burned the codices because the Maya left them lying around for a couple hundred years after their civilization fell apart. Although the Maya survived as farmers and peasants, their writings outlived their civilization.
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