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Exclusive Interview with Darren Aronofsky on "The Fountain"

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Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz star in

Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz star in "The Fountain."

© Warner Bros. Pictures
The Fountain is Visually Stunning: In fact, it’s so beautiful to look at that at one point during the screening I lost track of the story because I was so caught up in the visuals. When I mentioned that to Aronofsky he responded, “Oh, cool!” It wasn’t the first time he’d heard that sort of comment. “I’ve noticed that,” said Aronofsky. “I only noticed it because I was in a theater when it played in Europe in Venice and France and they put the subtitles up. The subtitles are really big and I cannot imagine how people in Europe… I’ve been telling the European people, which is crazy, telling them to dub the film because I think it’s better if they are just able to just listen. Imagine if you had to read subtitles as well as watch the movie. I really am pro-dubbing.”

The Use of Microscopic Photography: After seeing The Fountain it’s impossible to understand why the technique isn’t used more often in place of CGI. “We found this guy over outside of Oxford in the United Kingdom who for the last 25 years has been shooting chemical reactions in microorganisms with a microscope. He got him to do some stuff that sort of implied a nebula. Then we manipulated it a bit, basically, and used his footage to breathe life into space. He’s been around for a while; he was an old film guy. He’s actually won an Oscar for… You know how they have those Science and Technology Oscars that they do the day before? He had won one a few years ago, actually.

Very early on I kind of made a rule in that the effects department - no CGI. I didn’t want to do any CGI. I wanted everything to be generated and created and be photographed, meaning light comes down, bounces off something, goes through a lens, hits some film, and that’s what I wanted. I wanted everything in the film to have that organic feel. The reason for that is just because CGI has just sort of taken over. You can see high quality films, you know, a bunch came out this summer that have unlimited budgets and they cut to a CGI shot and it’s not real. It feels like you’re watching a cartoon.”

Aronofsky continued, “So I said to the guys, ‘There’s got to be a guy out there that shoots explosions or chemical reactions. There’s got to be.’ We did a big search and eventually by asking enough people, we found this guy who used to do special effects back before the computers. He used to do all these water tank effects, like the clouds in Poltergeist. Remember those clouds rolling in that you saw in Spielberg movies? Ink and water is how they used to do that type of stuff before they had CGI. And Superman and Supergirl, there were these sequences where they were flying through space. There were basically these weird kind of, I don’t know what you call them, basically paint pigment moving through water and they photographed it. But no one really wanted to do that for the last 25 years. He’s kind of just done it on his own for artistic reasons. He’s developed techniques tremendously. Then, because we do have computers, we were able to take those images and then collage them and take them to the next level to make them cohesive and make them something truthful and real for the film.”

The Decision to Use the Color Gold: “The entire film is this movement from darkness into light, from black to white, because in the most simple Poltergeist sense, it’s about a guy afraid of death moving towards death. We decided the world between the darkness and the light we had to figure out - which is the material world - and we started to think about, ‘Well, how do we portray it?’ And I think it probably started with the conquistador element of how conquistadors are always searching for gold. That sort of triggered the idea of, ‘Hey, gold kind of represents the most base thing. When you see gold, it represents materialism and wealth and all these things that distract us from the true journey that we’re on.’ We kind of connected gold to the knowledge and the information that the scientists are searching for in the lab. Basically it became about movement from darkness into light, but moving through curtains and shields of goldness. It also completely tied into the nebula, which are in general - they often take on that color, so it all kind of worked together.”

Page 3: Casting Hugh Jackman and Anticipating Audience Reactions

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