June 1, 2011

Tree of Life With Shake Your Soul

Terrence Malick's "Tree of Life" is one of the best films I have ever seen and nothing short of modern masterpiece. Now to understand how I got to that point, let's take a voyage back through time:

  • April 2010 - I first blog about the "Tree of Life" and it's potential for dinosaur induced madness. I'm a dinosaur fan so I was intrigued. 
  • December 2010 - The first trailer for the film drops and I'm determined I want to see and board the hype train!
  • February 2011 - I start to feel like a real sucker because I've never seen a single Terrence Malick flick, so I begin to prepare
  • March - May 2011 - "Badlands," "Days of Heaven," "The Thin Red Line", and "The New World" are all watched. Have to prepare. Malick worship begins
  • May 2011 - I realize that I'm super deep in Malickville. This is also amplified by constant conversations with my buddy Hendawg over at the website LIFTING FOG. We determine Malick is a nature based deity/filmaker 
  • May 29 2011 - I see the film. World is changed.
Brad Pitt & Jessica Chastain play the parents to three boys growing up in 1950's Texas. The core narrative of the film is about this family throughout their life, we get brief snippets of the their joys, sorrows, hopes, and dreams. But the family itself is just a way for Malick to question nothing less than the meaning of life itself. What does one family mean in the fabric of the Universe? How did as humans get here to live these moments? How does nature impact our destinies? What is God? 

The one line that sticks with me from the film is "the glory around us."  I found the film to be about the glorious mystical power that the natural world has over us. We are just creatures being shaped by our planet, man, think about that! This idea is supported by a lengthy sequence in the film that shows the creation of the Universe from the big bang to dinosaurs. While the sequence has been hyped endlessly, it the most visually striking thing I have ever seen on film, and yes that counts, all the epic Avatar shit that I love. 

From the incredibly use of classical music, to Brad Pitt's excellent performance, to the way that Malick captures child actors just being kids (utterly incredibile when you think about it), "Tree of Life" is unlike any film before it. Some reviewers are calling it a "prayer," while others are befuddled by it. Speaking of befuddling, this is no doubt sometimes a confusing film. There are shots that are really out there and the structure can be difficult at times, yet there is no doubt that this is confident, well acted, and beautifully shot film-making of the highest accord.

I've resisted using this word in this review before, but "Tree of Life" is extremely heady, aka dealing with everything from life, death, space, time, fabric of the universe, love and everything else. Simply put it is the ultimate MIND MELT and profoundly moving at the same time. I highly recommend this moving, sometimes difficult, film for anyone who is open minded and wants to explore one man's take on what he thinks life is.

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