The Fountain (Graphic Novel): Review

16Jun07

Written by Darren Aronofsky

Illustrated by Kent Williams

Life isn’t life without death. 

In 2002, Darren Aronofsky wanted to make a film on immortality and love but ran into production problems. Unperturbed, he decided to go on but in a different medium; the graphic novel. (Yet, he would later be able to turn an altered version of his story into a film.)

This is perhaps the fourth or fifth time I’ve read it. I don’t know what it was (maybe the loneliness, maybe the spoilt cheese sandwich), but the book struck me like never before. It isn’t just the artwork or the writing, but the idea behind it itself is something I constantly ponder about.

The story has 3 sub plots that are intrinsically connected yet two of them are disconnected from reality as such. Basically, there are three timelines (1532 AD, 1997 and sometime in the future) and all of them have one man (the same man) trying to grasp the mortality of his lover and the fragility of life.

Thomas (1997) is a doctor trying to find a cure for his terminally ill wife, Izzi. In spite of the fact that she has embraced her impending death, Thomas finds it impossible to let go. He wallows in denial but the obvious does happen. This happens somewhere in the middle sandwiched between two other parallel plots.

In 1532, Spain is being threatened by the Church to let go of land that may very well be the home of the Tree of Life. Tomas the Conquistador (paramour of the Spanish queen Isabella) sets out to find this tree only to be met by Mayan savages.

Meanwhile somewhere in the far future (2463 AD), Thomas floats through space accompanied by the tree headed for the nebula Xibalba. He hopes to derive the energy of a dying star to revive the dying tree.

Yes, this is some pretty convoluted and trippy stuff but everything comes together for a satisfying (not so happy) conclusion. The book explores death and the fear of it that keeps one from living life itself.

The art work by Kent Williams is breathtaking to say the least. Water colors are used lavishly and the art itself morphs constantly to accentuate the story. From what I could notice, there were 3 distinct styles.

The writing is different from Darren Arronofsky’s films. It lacks the inherent cynicism of his films (Pi and Requiem for a Dream) and this book is filled with hope and metaphysical themes. I definitely liked the book better than the film but I think I may want to catch the film again.

10/10

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2 Responses to “The Fountain (Graphic Novel): Review”

  1. 1 Joe Kulangara

    Bro, I’ve been dying to read this ever since i heard about it in some article on the movie. good review. thanks for reminding me.

  2. I think you’ll like the book. It’s got a lot more depth than the film.


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