Terrance Malick’s The Tree of Life [updated]

 

When “Battle: LA” was released in early March I realized there were more movies coming out this year that I actually want to see than any other year in recent memory. There’s a stretch in late May, early June, when a new movie is coming out every weekend that I’m interested in, and the shear dedication it will take – both time and money – to see them all was, and is, kind of daunting. 

 

I plan on seeing “Thor” this weekend, and I’m getting pumped for the new Hangover and “Green Lantern”, which looks like a hell of a lot of fun, as does “X-men: First Class”, Captain America, Transformers, “Super 8”, and a gang of other shit that just makes it seem like the summer movie season is back with a vengeance. Hell, I kind of even want to see the new Fast and Furious movie, which is weird, but it looks like a good time. 

 

The one thing that really stands out for a whole host of reasons is Malick’s Tree of Life, which has to be the most anti-summer movie of all time. As of this writing, I’ve watched the trailer twice, both with the sound off, and I can honestly say I feel the same about Tree as I do about all the other stuff. I really, really want to see it. 

 

Plot synopsis reads as follows, according to Wikipedia. To wit: 

 

We trace the evolution of an eleven-year-old boy in the Midwest, Jack, one of three brothers. At first all seems marvelous to the child. He sees as his mother does with the eyes of his soul. She represents the way of love and mercy, where the father tries to teach his son the world’s way of putting oneself first. Each parent contends for his allegiance, and Jack must reconcile their claims. The picture darkens as he has his first glimpses of sickness, suffering and death. The world, once a thing of glory, becomes a labyrinth.

From this story is that of adult Jack, a lost soul in a modern world, seeking to discover amid the changing scenes of time that which does not change: the eternal scheme of which we are a part. When he sees all that has gone into our world’s preparation, each thing appears a miracle—precious, incomparable. Jack, with his new understanding, is able to forgive his father and take his first steps on the path of life.

The story ends in hope, acknowledging the beauty and joy in all things, in the everyday and above all in the family—our first school—the only place that most of us learn the truth about the world and ourselves, or discover life’s single most important lesson, of unselfish love.

 

Reports I’ve read on sites like Ain’t it Cool indicate there is something else entirely going on with this movie, that it spans the beginning and end of the universe, that Dinosaurs are involved, and that Malick has been working on the story, or pieces of it, for decades. 

 

For a man that has only made five feature length films in his career – Tree included – to release a movie of this scope and subject matter is beyond interesting and I cannot wait to freakin to see it. 

 

And, if you watch the trailer, embedded below, I recommend not using the sound. I’ve only seen “The Thin Red Line”, but there are long stretches of that movie that require no sound, and I get the feeling Tree will be very similar. I think all of Malick’s work is likely that way – these beautifully shot images that mean as much as any bit of dialogue or music to convey emotion in a particular scene. 

 

The trailer also indicates those other reports may be right. Shots of this Midwestern family intercut with swirling shots of the cosmos is very cool indeed. And I don’t know how an entire life, let alone the entire lifespan of the universe, will be communicated over the course of a single movie, but I guarantee it will be interesting in Malick’s hands. Enjoy, and let me know what you think. 

UPDATE: Reactions to the movie are starting to come in from Cannes, where it made its premier. Reactions have been mixed.

Drew McWeeny at HitFix wasn’t too impressed.

The Huffington Post wants to make love to Malick and the movie.

The Guardian calls the flick “mad and magnificent”, using the kind of language that’s expected of those Limey fucks.

I’ve only read the HitFix review in its entirety. The others I simply skimmed. Proceed at your own risk.

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