Does the film blogging world really need yet another post from someone who finds "The Tree Of Life" both confounding and enthralling and can't quite put their thoughts into cohesive words yet? No, it certainly doesn't. But why should that stop me? Do make sure you read Matt Zoller Seitz's article though - it's terrific. Meanwhile, some random thoughts:
- I've only seen it once, but will undoubtedly see it again in the theatre soon. My wife is eager to see it, so we'll see what we can swing over the next two weeks. I've been told by many that it "reveals" itself to you better on the second viewing...I suppose that's possible because during the first viewing I was too busy focusing on the pure visual beauty in front of me...Gorgeous beyond what I expected.
- The 20 minute "creation of the universe" segment was pretty spectacular indeed, but it's the "endless summer" sections that completely overwhelmed my senses. The scenes with the brothers playing were fantastic and so completely evocative of what I used to do as a kid.
- I've read some people's descriptions of the scene of the two dinosaurs being the first instance of "grace" or mercy since creation (ie. everything that preceded it was purely "nature"). I don't completely agree with that since I saw it as a precursor to the controlling hugs the father gave his boys (e.g. I have power over you), but I like the idea. And I like how the film allows you to find those ideas throughout it.
- Jessica Chastain's mother character floating in the air next to the tree was a perfect moment - how better for a son to remember his mother as angelic?
- Brad Pitt’s performance was superb. No, there wasn't a whole lot of dialogue, but I was sold on every loving yet controlling hug he gave his kids. Both the "hit me" scene and the blow up at the family dinner table reminded me of some fathers I had met when I was a kid (fortunately, not my own).
- The waves of waves - the crashing water, the fluid grass in the wind, the diving camera as it approached the characters (perhaps overused, but no less awesome).
- It wasn’t a perfect film for me by any means though…I never felt a sense of being connected to these people nor did I feel much emotional weight (except, as stated below, when we see the very young boys growing up). "Days Of Heaven" had that for me, but I didn’t get that here. I’m not sure why though...Was it too much of the opening universe coming into creation? The slightly affected whispering? The ending with Penn that didn’t do anything for me?
- I “think” I get a lot of the film’s intent – the struggle between nature and grace, loss of innocence, the doubling of those themes between the Waco family and the grander scheme of the universe, etc. all through the recollections of the older Jack during a particularly stressful point of his life – but I’m still not sure how I feel about how Malick put it together. Since he tends to find his films as he edits them, I couldn’t help thinking that he was still searching for “the film”.
- The most moving and emotional part of the film is without a doubt the early days of the children. The super close up of the baby lying on the ground is fantastic. I don’t know if anyone has ever shot a baby in that fashion before - being that up close, within the very short focal length of a baby’s vision, is where a parent’s face will usually be. The cradling of the foot. Young Jack's interaction with his new baby brother. Learning to walk. I know many films have documented those early stages of a child's life, but having the camera right THERE with the kids was remarkable.
- I love the feeling of movement the film creates. I really could watch this trailer all day long...
I'm very much looking forward to another viewing. If it doesn't all become crystal clear for me (which I don't really expect nor want), at least I can revel in the wonderful combination of images and music and let the film stir my own recollections.