I just watched the beautiful film by Terrence Malik – The Tree of Life.
I have wanted to see this film ever since I saw a preview. I had no idea what it was about but it looked beautiful and intriguing. And however many months later…I have now gotten around to watch it. I really wanted to have a Malik marathon, I wanted to get all of his movies and watch them in a row. But…movie stores are going out of business right and left and the only place you can rent movies is now at a Redbox! I could get Netflix, but I tried the whole getting movies in the mail thing and it just didn’t work out, so it seemed pointless to sign up just to get five films. Anyways, I caved and rented The Tree of Life. Also, this isn’t going to be some in depth analysis on the film, just my experience and take on the movie.
Stunning would pretty much sum the movie up. The visuals are astounding! The first thirty minutes are spent with frame after frame of beautiful shots. It’s like you’re just watching life go by, there are barely any words and no structure to the plot, but with the series of shots, Malik makes it clear what he wants to convey.
The film becomes a timeline, starting way way back, to the beginning of time, to the birth of the O’Brian children and then to the present. The creation part of the movie has such a Kubrick feel to it and I read a few reviews on the film after I saw it and I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Oh, how I would love to pick Malik’s brain apart. I guess it took him five years to develop this script and film. Just think of the thought process and the development he went through…I am just curious of his writing methods. It’s almost like a concept film, a piece of art, which I really love, because you don’t see a lot of movies like this nowadays.
The plot of this movie is quite tragic. It doesn’t start off that way, it has a gloomy edge to it, but nothing that makes you too unsettled. And then it becomes grim and dark. It shows suffering and pain and tragedy…Malik creates this world you cannot escape. For two full hours you are enveloped within his creation and even afterwards you can’t get away. You still have images of Jessica Chastain’s milky white skin pressed against the sunlight, the young boys and their lonely, hard stares…Sean Penn’s bewildered state and Brad Pitt’s menacing performance…I really love the scenes with Sean Penn. They seem pointless and they could easily be left out. But I love the juxtaposition between the early stages of creation to what we have now. This busy, chaotic world…
My favorite part was when Jessica Chastain’s character finally releases her grieving. It’s such a powerful moment, especially for a mother. She had an amazing performance, I really loved how the mother was portrayed in the film. I read that there was also a big theme between grace and nature. She represented grace and the father, nature. I find this interesting and makes me wonder about Malik’s childhood. I believe this whole movie is a window into Malik’s soul. It seems very personal, but yet universal. Everyone has asked the question- Why are we here?
I think Malik presents a very thought-provoking film. Why were we put on this earth? Why are we surrounded by these beautiful things, only to die and suffer? Why do good things happen to good people? All of these complexes we humans seem to have, Malik addresses the very heart of it. I didn’t get it at first and then it all just comes together so nicely. There was so many undertones and images I can address and mull over, but you can read other reviews about the symbolism etc. I just really wanted to give an overview of my personal experience with the film. How it made me feel etc…which put me in a thoughtful mood. Even hours after I watched The Tree of Life I was still contemplating the images. To sum it up, I really loved it. I wouldn’t recommend it to just anyone. You definitely don’t watch it for entertainment, because it sort of lacks in some areas. I have to admit, some of it was boring and drawn out. But if you want to appreciate art and be immersed in beautiful film, then watch it.