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Tree of Life

I remember the first time I questioned my faith; I remembering telling people about it. I recall how this struggle endured for decades, and that it was always misunderstood.

I remember being a missionary in Africa and my first time reading through the Bible. I discovered my namesake, a prince who challenged his father in support of a friend. I met dreamers in Babylon and saw the cedars of Lebanon. There was a scheming boy who became a nation, and a magical one who became a God. In the midst of this was the story of one man’s suffering, undeserved yet enlightening. His name was Job, and having served his master well he was tempted to feel otherwise.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation… when the morning stars sang together, and all the angels shouted for joy?” [Job 38:4-7].

This quote begins Terrance Malick’s latest masterpiece: The Tree of Life. I anticipated this film for months, anxious to see how his new imagery would affect me. I still feel the waves of its influence rippling through me now.

Primarily a silent film, the only other like it is Kubrick’s “Space Odyssey.” However, where Kubrick left viewers lost in space, Malick gives them grounds to exit upon. I won’t spoil the epiphanies that ensue onscreen, but I will discuss my reactions to them.

First off, the numerous Golden Baby nominations I’m awarding it with: Best Director (Terrance Malick), Best Actor (Hunter McCracken), Best Score (Alexandre Desplat), Best in Lighting, and of course… Best Film.

With that said, I’ll allude to why these accolades are so extensive, and will do so through a series of questions. Do you believe in love? Has it ever been taken from you? Is the universe in its vastness overwhelming? Or its weight too much to bear? Do you dream with eyes wide open? Are you lost within a nightmare?

An abstract inquisition, but one I hope will stir up questions of your own. Such an examination of the cosmos is played out by the stories lead, Jack. We see his dark secrets and are reminded of our own. We engage in his explorations, and are sent adrift in realms more personal. Malick’s moving pictures provide a visual meal to be digested over a lifetime; a scattered but progressive look at the beauties of life in the face of death. I say this because I feel this blog my most unsatisfying undertaking. It’s hard to explain how something so profound affected me in words alone. The addition of my tears and emotions would not suffice, only the assurance that it’s been loved seems to be sufficient.

Not since 2004 have I had a year like this one; full of pain and the plight to overcome it. I feel like Job, and if his book be like Malick’s film I hope to one day exit the towers of life blessed for my endurance. This is my prayer; this is my life at the movies.

Comments

  • Chris Elliott

    Chilling review dude. I’m soooo psyched to see this movie!! I honestly can’t wait. I really like that line you had in this piece: “Primarily a silent film, the only other like it is Kubrick’s “Space
    Odyssey.” However, where Kubrick left viewers lost in space, Malick
    gives them grounds to exit upon”. Very insightful. I hope to experience exactly what you are depicting with these words.

    • Anonymous

      If/when you get the chance let me know what you think. This is more an experience than a film, something Malick has continued to provide now that Kubrick as passed on. I’m starting to watch Fellini now as well… he has similar sentiments, but with an Italian touch. 

  • Anonymous

    I feel you, I wouldnt want to have to write about a Terrance Malick movie either, the guy is a genius.  And that word is bandied around a lot but in this case he deserves it all.  I just re-watched The Thin Red Line and was blown away once again.  I’ll be watching this On Demand for sure and waiting for the forethcoming Criterion Collection.

    • Anonymous

      I hope to see it again in 70mm. If you are interested in coming along let me know. Regardless you will love it. You have an appreciation for Malick and experience with his work… it’s almost integral in understanding this, which I believe is his greatest work. 

      Without question it deserved to win Cannes. 

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