Monday, November 19, 2007

The digital tree of life

Being completely dissertated out for the moment, I took a break tonight to watch Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain, which I had been planning to see when it was released in the theater years ago, but got scared off by bad reviews.

And being quite prepared to tear my hair, reproach Darren, and sigh in exasperation, I was... surprised! It is a good movie! Perfectly comprehensible, I think, and gorgeous, well-acted, minimalist writing (I suppose that could be a negative). I think people must have been just put off by the science-fictionnness of it all, with all the experimentation on animals, time traveling, and three storylines in different time periods (though there's a bit of a catch to that last). I won't spoil anything by telling you that, essentially, Hugh Jackman is always chasing after an antidote to death for the sake of his beloved, Rachel Weisz.

What it ends up being is a beautiful fable about accepting death, and perhaps it might have gotten better reviews and even been a better movie by centering just a little more on the modern couple, in which Jackman is a scientist and Weisz is his wife, dying of cancer. But to hell with reviews, it's an interesting film.

And although the extras about the making of the movie are a little slow and pretentious, with eerie music, they're absolutely fascinating from the point of view of filmmaking. (I have them running even as I'm typing this.) To watch Jackman gagging and convulsing while surrounded by ten huge dudes with cameras, light reflecting boards, mikes, etc., in the middle of a half a set, is to see a total lack of inhibition. I've watched behind-the-scenes before, and probably the best known ones are the LOTR extras. But those were amazing because they showed how detailed a job WETA did, while here I've mostly been marveling at just how little the actors knew of it until it was finished in post-production.

Actually, it's almost destroying that gorgeous movie for me, seeing poor Rachel Weisz do take after take with a lens six inches from her nose.

I like it.

OK, quick carping about kidnapping Mayan mythology helter-skelter... but...

I like it.

1 comment:

deoksu [덕수] said...

I make a habit of never actually watching the special features on DVDs for precisely the reason you mention. In a particularly moving film, it destroys the emotion of the story by showing you too much - and you almost retroactively stop emoting, because everything is rendered hollow.