Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Best Journey from the Beginning to the End of Time

First of all, if you haven't seen the Tree of Life but are planning on it, it's best you see it in a theater because it is over two hours long and feels longer. . . if you try to watch it at home I can't imagine you not getting distracted.  You will wander into the kitchen, you might go check on your laundry.  So see it in the theater, see it on the big screen where you're trapped enjoying it.

Next, Tree of Life is very beautiful and it feels very Good, like there could be a lesson to it that might make you a better person.  I didn't drink from it as deeply as Roger Ebert, but after one viewing I think I should read up on the movie, see if anyone smart has said something smarter about it, and go see it again, see if I can put the pieces together a little better than I did this first time.  I believe I missed a lot of stuff.  Right now I barely input on any of the symbolism to offer, hardly any conclusions to draw about the veering away from reality towards the end of the film . . . but we can agree that the movie veered away from reality at the end, right?  It's not just me, right?

I wish to repeat myself: this movie is very beautiful, it would not be out of place playing as a video installation at some museum, and you could try to watch it for just the art of it but I don't think the mind can be kept from wrestling with the story and the meaning.  Is this perhaps the grandest piece of abstract or experimental film?  Is it safe to call this movie impressionist?  Or is it expressionist?  I never took art history, you tell me.

And also: Many are calling this movie a religious film. But is it?  I'm not convinced.  I have to watch it again.  On first viewing I think Bill Cunningham New York is a more religious film or at least provided me with a more striking religious experience.

Clearly I am struggling here, but here's one thing I can say: I like the parts of the movie that were left out.  While the Dad fights to provide for his family during most of the film, we know from the beginning of the film (as chronological order isn't something the movie always concerns itself with) that eventually he does well because, man, look at that house.  Look at that furniture.  Not a castle by any means, but certainly the home of someone who has accomplished something.  Same with grown up Sean Penn . . . we're only shown the tiniest bit of his modern life, but the mood of was enough for me to feel like I didn't have to worry so much about everything that had been left out.


English said...

Just walked in from seeing it.

Existential may be the word you're looking for.

I'll have to mull on it for a bit, but I will say this:

I love the way, and the things the movie made me feel.
It made me want to be a better person.

Side of Jeffrey said...

I want to be a better person! I better go see it then.

David said...

I liked it. I also did not pick up on all the details Malick probably wanted me to. Nevertheless, a lot of the imagery and family vignettes were so vivid and conjured up a lot of thoughts and memories in me. The boyhood scenes were right on, like so many of the other scenes. I was impressed that even though the film was long he was able capture an entire childhood through the economy of small scenes and images. And, it definitely was one of the prettiest films I've seen in a long time.

I don't know that it was un-religious. Parts of it seem to be teleological but maybe that's just my own thoughts. Particularly with the ending and the idea of learning grace over nature? Although the cosmological stuff was sometimes abrupt and difficult to place with story at times, I think it served well to make you put life into the context. Were those parts too long at times? Maybe. But sometimes I feel the same way through the similar scenes in the temple--I think it ultimately puts your mind in a smarter place. In the end, I think Malick definitely put himself out there in this film and I think that's admirable. In a different frame of mind, there are moments where it's easily a movie you could laugh at.

Bek said...

Just saw the movie last night and I would consider it a religious experience. It's been so long since anything has made me wish to be good (again) or since anything has reminded me that there are universal truths. I loved the exploration of so many themes in this movie: duality, agency, time, human nature, grace, is there a God?, who is God?, are we at all significant?

I cried throughout this entire movie because it really touched my tenderest spots. It reminded me how much I love my family and how they've shaped me. It made me hope to high heaven that there really is a God. And when the movie parted from reality (because it did at the end), it made me hope that heaven is like Malick's version--where we're all reunited with the people we love and we all understand each other and everything else.

I felt like I was at really good Church and loved it. I was sad to leave the theater.

Le fin.

Brigham said...

Dear Commenters,
You're all helping me learn and grow and appreciate this movie more. Don't stop. Keep sharing.

My friend Patricia shared this link with me, it's an illuminating opinion:“tree_of_life%2C”_book_of_job/


Brigham said...

I mean this link