Friday, December 5, 2008

The Fountain: A Quest for Immortality Part 2

This is the continuation of my three part blog on my paper The Fountain: A Quest for Immortality. Rabbi Rami's comments are in black and my responses/comments are in reddish brown.

Part 1
Part 3

[Warning: The following text contains plot spoilers.]

There are Christian, Mayan, Hindu, and Buddhist religious themes and symbols present in the film. The fact that there is no one overwhelming religious presence in the movie and that it deals with mortality, a topic that most if not all religions deal with, leaves it open to interpretation by the viewer from any religious background.

Rami: Is this the Post-Modern aspect of the film? No one religion has it right? Why are you drawn to a text (in this case a film) that invites you to decide for yourself what is real? Why are others drawn to texts and traditions that do not invite personal speculation but rather demand acceptance of the "One Way"?

Yes, this is the Post-Modern aspect of the film although you can also say the entire film is a Post-Modern view on life and death. In fact, I was going to break it down even further in the presentation I did for class pointing out how Tom represented a different view for each era: The 16th century Tom saw the world (and Death) in a Traditional, Pre-Modern view, the 21st century Tom saw it in the Modern, Scientific view, and the 26th century Tom saw his world in the Post-Modern view.

The 16th century Tom saw and explained his world in a Traditional worldview. Although at first he doubted the "pagan yarns" of the Tree of Life, he truly did believe after the Queen explained that the Tree of Life exists because it is mentioned in Genesis. On faith, he fought the pagans knowing that " through her command we shall live forever." His entire journey is based on following a myth but he believes this myth to be factual. There was a Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden and God hid it from the world. Even at the end of his journey when he drinks from the Tree of Life he believes that he has become immortal when he has a vision of Xibalba and then dies.

The 21st century Tom
saw and explained his world in a Modern, Scientific view. As I recall he does not pray, believe in miracles, and struggles with his wife's acceptance of her looming death. All he knows is science. With science he can cure his wife, and when he failed he vows to defeat the disease called Death with science.

The 26th
century Tom saw and viewed his world in a Post-Modern view. This one was a bit harder for me to explain (that's why I left it out) but I'll try. In this era, Tom travels not in search for answers but for relief from Life and its questions. He knows that the Traditional and Scientific views can not explain or comfort him in anyway. He is completely surrounded by questions on his quest. He knows that he's going to die someday, but he's afraid of dying. He journeys for hundreds of years living with and tormented by these questions. In the end he learns that if he just accepts death for what it is he will overcome his fears of it and realize that the questions (and answers) of life are irrelevant.

Why I'm drawn to this film that invites you to decide for yourself what is real is because I have recently realized that I have a choice in deciding what's real or not. I grew up thinking that there was only one reality and therefore no choice. The denomination I was raised in was the complete truth. Period. But that's a whole different topic I am reserving for a future blog. Others, I've realized, do not invite personal speculation of their texts and traditions because since their reality is firmly based on those texts and traditions any questioning (or doubts) will destroy that foundation. And without a firm foundation to ground their view of reality they find themselves lost in space.

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