Darren Aronofsky wrote and directed the epic magical realism romantic drama film The Fountain starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. The film incorporates fantasy, history, spirituality, and science fiction into three storylines involving immortality and the resulting love lost, as well as one man’s pursuit of avoiding this fate in this life or beyond. But did you know that the production spent less than expected on the film’s visual effects?
The Fountain’s visual effects cost only $140,000 on a $35 million budget. This is thanks to macro photographer Peter Parks’ creative solutions and a minimum of CGI.
What was the Inspiration for the Film?
Darren Aronofsky began to consider his mortality when he turned 30 in 1999. With his parents’ serious illness at the time, Aronofsky began to imagine a story about a man who would go to any length to save a loved one from cancer.
The result was a draft of The Fountain, a nonlinear sci-fi epic in which neuroscientist Tom Creo, played by Hugh Jackman, devotes his life’s work to curing his wife Izzy’s disease of death. Although he began working on the story in the early 2000s, the final film was not released until 2006.
Aronofsky drew inspiration for The Fountain from various sources, including many diverse films. Aronofsky credited The Matrix and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey for informing the film’s philosophical tenets.
The Fountain was also heavily influenced by Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, the jungles of The Holy Mountain and Aguirre, the Wrath of God, and the fantasy elements of Memories of Fire. (Source: Screen Rant)
Brad Pitt’s Connection
Warner Brothers Studios and New Regency gave the Fountain the green light in 2002, with a $70 million budget. The main contingency was the casting of Brad Pitt in the lead role alongside Cate Blanchett.
After significant creative differences between the star and the director, Pitt left the project to focus on Troy. As a result, Warner Bros. halted production on The Fountain, which sat idle for two years. Hugh Jackman was cast in Pitt’s place when the film was resurrected in 2004 with a halved budget of $35 million. (Source: Screen Rant)
Collateral Damages of the Film
After Pitt’s departure from The Fountain, there was collateral damage. After Warner Bros. ceased production, several massive film sets and props built in Australia were auctioned off. The auction included a 10-story Mayan temple intended to be a major set piece in the film’s 15th-century setting.
Furthermore, the production fired several Australian crew members, extras, and production assistants. Cate Blanchett was paid for her time and relieved of her film responsibilities. (Source: Screen Rant)
The Graphic Novel
Aronofsky allowed the publication of a graphic novel based on his unproduced screenplay while production on The Fountain was halted from 2002 to 2004. Aronofsky chose Vertigo Comics and artist Kent Williams after doing some research.
Aronofsky and his producing partner Ari Handel gave Williams access to all of the research materials they had been working on during the film’s pre-production and gave him complete freedom to interpret the script as he saw fit. The Fountain graphic novel was released in November 2005, one year before the film’s release. (Source: Screen Rant)
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