If it's crap ... We'll tell you
My last analysis, as you know, was a review. I think with a film like this works like a long prayer, cannot be discussed with simple words or shrugged off. Those critics that found fault with this film must have had their reasons. I did say in my original analysis that it would not be my final word on the movie. I am still young and so is the film, and yet it feels older, more wise than most films of this sort.
I have only seen a short amount of films of this kind. Gaspar Noe's Irreversible and Enter The Void, Stanley Kubrick's 2001, Ingmar Berman's Persona and Wild Strawberries, especially Wild Strawberries, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu's Amores Perros, and his Babel, Alfonso Cauron's Y Tu Mama Tambien. I must acknowledge that one of the more human films of the bunch, bold to say because these films all have something diverse to say about life, some more potent than others. Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line. I post that seperately from the bunch I have listed because I feel Malick's Tree Of Life, The Thin Red Line and his other films are in a league of their own. They have almost unachieveable humanity other films crave but won't step out of their comfort zone for. The Tree Of Life is clearly the better film, you don't need Oscars to see that. And Thin Red isn't by any means better or more important than Kubrick's 2001 just rare in its human portrayal.
But these films succeed respectfully on their own because they are about different branches and perspectives about existence. Some more foreboding, more dark than others. These films put some aspect of life into perspective. They all have something to say, power to inspire us to change ourselves. Well now I think that the genre isnt so rare, most young directors aim for large projects of ambiguous scope to raise eyebrows. Malick is in his 60's I believe and 40 years of directing, yet this film posses timeless youthful energy like The Breakfast Club. It was 135 minutes long. I saw it with a friend and he thought parts dragged. Like the creation of the universe scene. Something about that was whenever the screen would go black, it meant time has passed on into the next phase of creation. Why would she think it was slow? It was a fascinating movie but I didnt insensitively correct her or really sympathize with her view of it. Many will have trouble swallowing this film, and a large mass of people will have a bad taste in their mouth after viewing it. That is what we have come to, but that is a discussion for later.
It could be that they have repressed memories of childhood. Mourn loved ones or long to reconcile a poor relationship. Roger Ebert said children dispise discipline. True in most cases. I have read a lot of his blogs (non film related) and it seems like he grew up around circa 50's era were, as he pointed out, you would feel the back of your superior's hand if you mouthed off. I am living in the 21st century and my parents have lost patience with me if you get my drift. I dont want to steer into more personal aspects which this film bring up in me. But anyone would be lying if they said this film didnt move them one way or another. Any other film in the wrong filmmaker's hands would have portrayed Mr O' Brien played by Brad Pitt to be a jerk off and not even consider that we as compentent film goers would like a second opinion or a third depth. Malick subtly grants us this. I praise him for that. He handles the scenes with the family in turmoil with great restraint and perspective, even dare I say, bravery (see the dinner table blow up). We can't expect gold from all filmmakers or what kind of aspiring films critics would we be.
We see Mr O Brien's father die of a stroke early on. Then his sympathy as a father slowly dissipates. He takes on a more strict role as a father, maybe guilt for not heeding a single word of worthy advice from his father, but thats just me. I think the most blundt statement i made about this film was regarding Sean Penn's performance as old Jack O Brien. Tell me what you thought before i go off about that. Films that juggle time and space can be described as perspective films. Standing outside of life looking in. This film is one of the greatest acts of genius on the part of director Terry Malick who won the Palme d Or this year at the Cannes Film Festival. That is the top honor of the festival.
This film is a tribute to all the people Malick has crossed in his life. Family, friends, brief acquaintances. He never took a conversation, let alone a face for granted. We all have our troubled spots of our current youth or past for older ones. The Tree of Life speaks out to that repressed itch in a very touching way. Almost completely silent. The way it shows us all walking around each other. Understanding who we are and just how seemlessly we float through each other's souls. I have compared this film many of times to Kubrick's 2001. Not because they are identical in what they try to achieve or in how the special effects are directed (credit supervisor Douglas Trumbull who worked on both films, for his diverse visual direction) but because a large part of each film has given you time to soak in what you have seen, allowing you to understand it before leaving you in the dust. Both films are intricate but not to the point were you surrender. This movie sticks to you in a way Kubrick or Michael Haneke (Cache) never achieved. They strike a personal cord you cant let go. You either go with it when it touches you or feel violated by it. Bad example....
Accepting is what this film is; being slighted, but i couldnt see that. The film doesnt try and challenge you to find it either but to step outside your own life and walk with them at the end of time. The Tree of Life is the greatest lifeswork in the history of the cinema. These characters feel more familiar to us than the people we know. The scenery feels more real than the places we cross on our communes. And the objects resonate with us more to the eye than to our own touch.
This film is a 6