Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer: Ari Handel, Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Hugh Jackman (Tomas / Tommy / Tom Creo), Rachel Weisz (Isabel / Izzi Creo), Ellen Burstyn (Dr. Lillian Guzetti), Mark Margolis (Father Avila)
Genres: Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
Released: November 22, 2006 (USA)
Running time: 96 minutes
MPAA: PG-13 — intense sequences of violent action, some sensuality, and language
Three stories – one each from the past, present, and future – about men in pursuit of eternity with their love. A conquistador in Mayan country searches for the tree of life to free his captive queen; a medical researcher, working with various trees, looks for a cure that will save his dying wife; a space traveler, traveling with an aged tree encapsulated within a bubble, moves toward a dying star that’s wrapped in a nebula; he seeks eternity with his love. The stories intersect and parallel; the quests fail and succeed.
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• In early 2002, writer/director Darren Aronofsky cast Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in the central leads of Tom and Izzi with a budget of $75 million. During pre-production, Pitt and Aronofsky were having major creative differences, so Pitt left to film Troy instead and the film was shut down, and the sets and props built in Australia were auctioned off. In early 2004, with a smaller budget of $35 million, Aronofsky cast Hugh Jackman as Tom and Rachel Weisz replaced Blanchett as Izzi. Warner Bros., who had invested 20 million dollars in the canceled version, agreed to finance the new, cheaper version.
• Hugh Jackman had to shave off all of the hair on his head and chest for scenes in the last third of the movie.
• Instead of using CGI, Darren Aronofsky chose to do the special effects for the film by using micro-photography of chemical reactions on tiny petri dishes. He has said that CGI would take away from the timelessness of the film and that he wants the film to stand the test of time.
• Aronofsky approached Hugh Jackman backstage during his performance of The Boy From Oz. The next day, the actor agreed to star in the film.
• Both Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman agreed to work on the film at a reduced rate.
• Darren Aronofsky did not shave his beard till production was finished, a tradition he started while shooting Pi.
• Tom’s last name is Creo which is Latin for “I create.” Creo also means “I believe” in Spanish.
• Warner Bros. refused to do a director’s commentary for the DVD release, so Darren Aronofsky recorded one in his living room and released it on his web site.
• The score, composed by Clint Mansell, is played by the Kronos Quartet and the Scottish rock band Mogwai.
• Of the 70 extras cast as Mayan warriors, 20 were actual Mayans flown in from Guatemala. Fernando Hernandez, who played the Lord of Xibalba, was the only one who could speak English. Before shooting at the Mayan pyramid, the Mayan actors blessed the set.
• A piano and vocal interpretation of Clint Mansell’s “Stay With Me” theme was originally recorded for the end credits, with Justin Skomarovsky on piano and Antony Hegarty (of the group Antony and the Johnsons) on vocal. Director Darren Aronofsky, though satisfied with the piano arrangement, didn’t feel that Antony’s lyrics consummately reflected the film’s message and narrative. Ultimately, Aronofsky discarded the song and opted instead to record Skomarovsky’s piano arrangement with veteran Hollywood pianist Randy Kerber.
• When the first version of the script was shelved and production was halted, Darren Aronofsky rewrote the script and re-envisioned the film. The first version of the script was turned into a graphic novel illustrated by Kent Williams and released as a soft-cover and limited edition hardback book. The final version of the film, with its reduced budget and new leading cast, made extensive use of unique non-CGI special effects to save on production costs and give the picture a more “organic” feel.
• Izzi Creo (the version of her name on her grave) is a close phonetic translation for “Y sí, creo,” Spanish for “And yes, I do believe”.
Tomas Verde: There’s no hope for us here, there is only death.
Tomas Verde: I’m sorry father, for you there is only death. But our destiny is life!
Grand Inquisitor Silecio: Our bodies are prisons for our souls. Our skin and blood, the iron bars of confinement. But fear not. All flesh decays. Death turns all to ash. And thus, death frees every soul.
Lord of Xibalba: Death is the road to awe.
Izzi: Remember Moses Morales?
Tom Creo: Who?
Izzi: The Mayan guide I told you about.
Tom Creo: From your trip.
Izzi: Yeah. The last night I was with him, he told me about his father, who had died. Well Moses wouldn’t believe it.
Tom Creo: Izzi…
Izzi: [embraces Tom] No, no. Listen, listen. He said that if they dug his father’s body up, it would be gone. They planted a seed over his grave. The seed became a tree. Moses said his father became a part of that tree. He grew into the wood, into the bloom. And when a sparrow ate the tree’s fruit, his father flew with the birds. He said… death was his father’s road to awe. That’s what he called it. The road to awe. Now, I’ve been trying to write the last chapter and I haven’t been able to get that out of my head!
Tom Creo: Why are you telling me this?
Izzi: I’m not afraid anymore, Tommy.
Tom Creo: There’s been progress at work…
Izzi: [laughs] My conquistador! Always conquering…
Isabel: For every shadow, no matter how deep, is threatened by morning light.
Tom Creo: All these years, all these memories, there was you. You pull me through time.
Isabel: Kneel, Conquistador.
[Tomas kneels before her]
Isabel: Let in the morning light.
[the doors are opened; light floods into the hall]
Isabel: The beast runs amok in my kingdom. He has isolated me, and now he is sharpening his talons for one more fateful push. But salvation lies in the jungles of New Spain. Will you deliver Spain from bondage?
Tom Creo: Through that last dark cloud is a dying star. And soon enough, Xibalbia will die. And when it explodes, it will be reborn. You will bloom… [reservedly bitter] and I will live.
Tom Creo: Death is a disease, it’s like any other. And there’s a cure. A cure – and I will find it.
Isabel: Will you deliver Spain from bondage?
Tomas Verde: Upon my honor and my life.
Isabel: Then you shall take this ring to remind you of your promise.
[hands him the ring]
Isabel: You shall wear it when you find Eden, and when you return, I shall be your Eve.
[he looks at her]
Isabel: Together we will live forever.
Tom Creo: I finished it.
Izzi: Is everything all right?
Tom Creo: Yes. Everything’s all right.
Izzi: This is an actual Mayan book. It explains the Creation myth. You see that’s first father. He’s the very first human.
Tom Creo: Hum. Is he dead?
Izzi: He sacrificed himself to make the world. [pause] That’s the tree of life bursting out of his stomach.
Tom Creo: Hey come.
Izzi: Listen. His body became the trees’ roots. They spread and formed the earth. His soul became the branches rising up forming the sky. All the remained is first father’s head. His children hung in in the heavens creating Xibalba.
Tom Creo: Xibalba. The star, eh… nebula.
Izzi: So what do you think?
Tom Creo: About?
Izzi: That idea. Death as an act of creation.
Tom Creo: [looks away, withdrawing] I’ll pull out the car and meet you out front.