Thursday, October 13, 2011

Man on Film: The Tree of Life

The beauty of The Tree of Life, as is the case with all Terrence Malick films, is that one is left to draw their own conclusions from the film. More so than any working filmmaker, Malick uses his keen eye for captivating imagery to mold a film that relies on evocation rather than straight-forward storytelling. It is with these bold, evocative, Impressionistic brushstrokes that Malick crafted The Tree of Life, and the resultant project is one of the most ambitious and unique films that has ever been made.

Maybe this isn't a film for everyone, though it should be. After all, we live in a world in which a Michigander is suing FilmDistrict because Drive wasn't enough like Fast Five. Some saw this film because it had Brad Pitt in it and left scratching their heads not knowing what to think.

The Tree of Life isn't a film that is wrapped up with a bow. Much of the dialogue is presented via voice-over (a common trait for a Malick film to have), and that dialogue has a largely lyrical nature to it. There are two extended sections of the film that are, well, obtuse. By obtuse, I mean that in a film largely about a family in Texas in the 1950s (at least superficially speaking) there is an extended sequence detailing the creation of the universe and the evolution of life on Earth and another that is a foray into a dreamlike afterlife.

Despite the perception of difficulty, this is not a film from which you can easily walk away. In the months since having seen The Tree of Life theatrically, it has crept back into my head repeatedly. During the days immediately following, it consumed me. This simply does not happen with other directors' works.

In the coming weeks, I intend to do some more in-depth and focused analysis on individual aspects of the film, but in short, The Tree of Life may well be the best film of this young century as it is likely the best film since The Thin Red Line. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD this week. If I could get this goddamn Amazon widget to work, I'd throw the link in.


Beau said...

just watched this movie, have no clue what to make of it. maybe i'll watch it again twenty years from now.

Josh Duggan said...


Give it a couple days. Everything sort of starts to make sense if you allow it to stew.

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