First (pictured above) | The Fountain
With lavishly rich visuals, Darren Aronofsky weaves together three stories that challenge the quest for immortality and explore the true nature of death. Focusing on a devoted researcher desperately striving to develop a cure for his wife's cancer, Aronofsky tenderly illustrates the couple's deep love and involves the audience in Jackman's struggle to save his wife.
Second | Pan's Labyrinth
Guillermo del Toro's dark fairytale explores the tension between blind obedience and personal conviction. He follows a terrified, dreamy school-girl as she first confronts the ominous reality of living with her shockingly brutal step-father in the middle of the Spanish civil war and then explores the dangerous (and often disgusting) fairy world that offers her escape.
Third | The Fall
In my favorite movie of all time, Tarsem Singh explores the function of stories in real life, the relationships between author and audience, and the extent to which stories act as drugs. He constructs a strikingly sincere friendship between a stumbling immigrant girl and the paralyzed stunt man who invents an "epic" to entertain (and manipulate) her. Her lavish imagination of his story and the complex links between fantasy and reality create a incredibly layered, deeply personal story that never fails to bring me to tears.
If you've watched any of these, do share your interpretation! Perhaps the only thing as satisfying as watching these films is discussing them.