“Death is the road to awe.” So speaks the Mayan king in The Fountain (2006). Once again, I’ve been drawn to this excellent movie by director Darren Aronofsky. It stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz on a mind-bending and heart-rending journey in the present, five centuries in the past, and (presumably) five centuries in the future.
In the present, Jackman plays a doctor deeply invested in his medical research, because he’s desperate to find a cure for his terminally ill wife, played by Weisz. In the past, he is a Spanish conquistador, and in the future, he’s a space traveler in a transparent bubble! In all three time periods, Weisz is also present: in the future, as an apparition who appears to him, and in the past, as the monarch of Spain, in all of her queenly beauty.
And then there’s the tree of life, denied to humanity since the beginning. It haunts Jackman in each of the centuries.
I remembered the line, “Death is the road to awe,” because the reading from the Acts of the Apostles for the Fourth Sunday of Easter includes 2:43. “Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.”
We too rarely experience awe in our foolish, cynical culture. But where else can death and resurrection lead us?