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Overstreet

The Tree of Life (2011)

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Unverified update:

He screened it to an audience of about thirty, and it’s literally 97% done. Our boss was able to see it, and called it the best film of his since “Badlands”. Emmanuel Lubezki was in attendance, as was some vfx gurus (one of which was my boss).

It will not make Cannes. The visual effects aren’t done, but the footage that we’ve worked on is near complete. The reason for the delay in post is because of the amount of detail IMAX 70 MM requires. I can assure you that the results are worth the wait.

Is the IMAX 70MM footage going to be released in a separate documentary, or is it to be incorporated into an IMAX release of The Tree of Life? I ask because there were a lot of rumours about a related IMAX documentary called ‘Voyage of Time’, but I suspect that might just have been a codename for additional IMAX shooting for TOL.

Our house is referring to it as “Voyage of Time”. I don’t know if it will be a separate documentary. Terrence has made sure that we work on footage without knowing too much of the plot or reason behind it. It’s always about a feeling or an emotion. He is definitely the most interesting director we’ve had the pleasure of working with, and probably the only who’s interacted with the digital artists themselves. He has never settled for results less than immaculate, but is humble and patient about it.

Edited by Overstreet

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From a Vanity Fair article on Douglas Trumbull:

Malick is working on two films, a long-awaited cosmic family drama starring Brad Pitt called Tree of Life, and an accompanying IMAX movie. Like most who work with the notoriously secretive director, Trumbull was reluctant to discuss the project. But he hinted at a retro style of visual effects: "Terry is a friend," Trumbull said. "He said to me, 'I don't like CG.' I said, 'Why not do it the old way? The way we did it in 2001?'"
[That's 2001: A Space Odyssey, for which Trumbull did special effects.] Edited by Overstreet

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Trumbull also did the visual effects on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Blade Runner; in addition, he has directed entire movies, such as Silent Running and Brainstorm (i.e. the movie that Natalie Wood was making when she died).

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Looks like Malick won't be facing any deadline pressures in the editing room on THIS film ...

- - -

Apparition Co-Founder Bob Berney Resigns, Company Cancels Cannes Plans; What Does This Mean For 'Tree Of Life'?

In a surprising move, Apparition co-founder and head Bob Berney tendered his resignation yesterday just days before the upstart indie distribution company was scheduled to hit the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and shake hands for new films to handle under their banner. . . .

The biggest question right now surrounds Terrence Malick's highly-anticipated "Tree Of Life." While the film is still set up at Apparition it remains to be seen what is going to happen in the coming days in the wake of Berney's depature. . . .

It will be interesting to hear how this plays out but if Apparition closes it doors, it might be a while yet before we see Malick's film. In a worst-case-scenario, creditors would circle whatever is left first and we imagine the film would have to be sold off again and all that takes time. That is a big IF, though. The other scenario is that Pohlad dusts himself and gets the wheels back on the company and keeps moving forward. Filling Berney's shoes, however, is going to be quite the task.

The Playlist, May 11

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PopMatters:

Malick’s eccentric directing style is well known by those who have shot with him. Will Wallace, actor for The Thin Red Line, The New World and The Tree of Life described one occasion: “Terry has a very unique style of directing. It was Martin Sheen who first told me (before I was leaving for Australia to shoot TTRL) to just trust in Terry and his direction even though you may wonder what he is trying to get out of you. Martin says that to this day, he is most proud of his work in Badlands, and he told me that he attributes that to the direction he got from Terry. You may ask for an example of such: A line might be as simple as “Where is everyone in Charlie Company?”... Terry may ask that you say it again as if you are staring at a strange canoe. Upon trying to visualize a strange canoe, the actor says the line again. Terry then says, “no… that wasn’t it… say it again, but this time say it as if you are staring at a strange totem pole.” Upon commencing the lines, your eyes might tend to veer upwards in applying this direction, in which case Terry might shout “BUT DON"T LOOK UP!” This actually happened to Adrian Brody.”

I love it.

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PopMatters:

Malick’s eccentric directing style is well known by those who have shot with him. Will Wallace, actor for The Thin Red Line, The New World and The Tree of Life described one occasion: “Terry has a very unique style of directing. It was Martin Sheen who first told me (before I was leaving for Australia to shoot TTRL) to just trust in Terry and his direction even though you may wonder what he is trying to get out of you. Martin says that to this day, he is most proud of his work in Badlands, and he told me that he attributes that to the direction he got from Terry. You may ask for an example of such: A line might be as simple as “Where is everyone in Charlie Company?”... Terry may ask that you say it again as if you are staring at a strange canoe. Upon trying to visualize a strange canoe, the actor says the line again. Terry then says, “no… that wasn’t it… say it again, but this time say it as if you are staring at a strange totem pole.” Upon commencing the lines, your eyes might tend to veer upwards in applying this direction, in which case Terry might shout “BUT DON"T LOOK UP!” This actually happened to Adrian Brody.”

I love it.

Good. I'm glad the PopMatters article is up here. I've found it's most helpful information-wise. And, for a fanboy like me, pee-inducing.

And that's the best directing story I've ever heard. I absolutely love it.

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Anyone know anything about Paul Maher, who wrote that article? There are weird bits of editorializing throughout the first half of the piece, and I just wonder how much of it is true and how much of it is just one more retelling of the Malick Myth. I mean statements like:

- "Malick halted preproduction halfway into the process, perhaps intuiting that his highly-visual tour-de-force was accelerating too rapidly for the ardent perfectionist." (At least this one is modified by "perhaps.")

- "The pressure of following-up two critical favorites, Badlands (1973) and Days of Heaven with a film that had to match or surpass their poetic brilliance proved too daunting."

- "Obstinate and eccentric, Malick would not budge; he wasn’t about to spit out a masterpiece without giving its gestation period its evolutionary due."

- "The work, surreal and brilliant in its overall construct, had all the makings of another masterpiece."

- "It may have been a move that was strategically planted, as a way of regaining impetus, momentum and critical clout in order to eventually one day yield from his reputation alone, the means to direct Q." (Yeah, it "may" have been that.)

- "The news at the time seemed incredulous." (Can news be "incredulous"? Okay, now I'm being petty.)

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- "Malick halted preproduction halfway into the process, perhaps intuiting that his highly-visual tour-de-force was accelerating too rapidly for the ardent perfectionist."

- "The pressure of following-up two critical favorites, Badlands (1973) and Days of Heaven with a film that had to match or surpass their poetic brilliance proved too daunting."

- "Obstinate and eccentric, Malick would not budge; he wasn’t about to spit out a masterpiece without giving its gestation period its evolutionary due."

- "The work, surreal and brilliant in its overall construct, had all the makings of another masterpiece."

- "It may have been a move that was strategically planted, as a way of regaining impetus, momentum and critical clout in order to eventually one day yield from his reputation alone, the means to direct Q."

These quotes read like the intertitles to a silent film about a mad scientist.

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Don't get your hopes too high. With a PG-13, I think it still could've been financed by Declaration Media.

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Overstreet wrote:

: Whoa. We have a rating. Which means... somebody's seen it.

Kirby Dick can help you track down the people who saw it. ;)

The interesting thing to me is that the film is rated PG-13 "for some thematic material", and nothing else. That usually implies a strong religious or political element (Facing the Giants, An Inconvenient Truth, etc.) -- though The Kite Runner was rated PG-13 "for strong thematic material including the sexual assault of a child, violence and brief strong language", which suggests that "thematic material" can apply to other things as well.

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Sounds extraordinarily ambitious (admittedly, it may be too ambitious). I can't wait to see the result.

I do have some reservations about the reliance on multiverse theory.

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Ryan H. wrote:

: I was saddened to find that I hated the screenplay for this.

You've read it, then?

Have you read any of the screenplays for his other films, and if so, how does it compare to those?

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This still comes out sometime this November, right?

(sigh)

I seem to remember being told last summer that it was coming out in December of 2009.

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It's amazing how the increased flexibility of modern digital editing systems have done nothing to speed up Malick's process, isn't it? (Days of Heaven took something like two years to edit; another director or producer saw the footage, cast Richard Gere in another film based on what he saw, and finished and released that other film while Malick was still editing his own movie.)

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It's amazing how the increased flexibility of modern digital editing systems have done nothing to speed up Malick's process, isn't it? (Days of Heaven took something like two years to edit; another director or producer saw the footage, cast Richard Gere in another film based on what he saw, and finished and released that other film while Malick was still editing his own movie.)

Not quite so unusual in these days of massive effects schedules. Didn't Sam Worthington & Zoe Saldana each film & release other big scifi effects films after they wrapped principal photography and before they released 'Avatar?'

And Malick must be the antithesis of Bob Zemeckis, who shot 'What lies beneath' while on a break from 'Cast Away' and then released the second film first.

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Bobbin Threadbare wrote:

: Not quite so unusual in these days of massive effects schedules.

Ah, well, that's not EDITING the images. That's GENERATING the images. :)

And Malick isn't really an effects-oriented filmmaker to begin with, is he? I mean, even here, the script reviews seem to indicate that the movie won't be QUITE as effects-oriented as some of the early rumours suggested.

: And Malick must be the antithesis of Bob Zemeckis, who shot 'What lies beneath' while on a break from 'Cast Away' and then released the second film first.

And don't forget Spielberg, who, if memory serves, shot Schindler's List while his post-production team was busy with Jurassic Park. (And then there was the Lost World / Amistad / Saving Private Ryan trifecta -- three movies released in a 14-month span; the IMDb indicates that Saving Private Ryan went into production a month or two after The Lost World came out, three months after Amistad finished principal photography, and about six months before Amistad came out.)

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Good article by Todd McCarthy discussing the New York Film Festival, where he also mentions The Tree of Life -

In this department, the gorilla in the room was Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life.” As late as early May, the reclusive auteur’s incipient effort was still awaited as a possible last-minute entry at Cannes. After its non-appearance there, it was considered a sure thing for the Venice-Toronto-New York circuit. We got excited when we learned it wouldn’t make those first two fall-season festivals but would almost certainly be ready for us in New York, which allowed us to dare to dream of the most brilliant closing night attraction ever.

All through our recent two weeks in the dark, we received periodic updates and tentative promises about the imminent arrival of the film for us to view; even well into the second week we were still being thus tantalized. Finally, of course, came word that Malick was still not done and it now seems clear the picture will not be opening this year. I can’t prove it, of course, and he’s supposedly set to start shooting a new film in Oklahoma in October, but I’m convinced we won’t be seeing “The Tree of Life” until, at the earliest, the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Or perhaps it could turn up at the New York Film Festival a year from now.

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