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The Tree of Life (2011)

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I see sin, guilt, grace, faith, reconciliation, and even Christ in the film. I can say that, for sure.

I can see suggestions of sin, guilt, grace, faith, and reconciliation. Sure. I'm not sure Malick understands these things quite the same way that orthodox Christian tradition does, but they are there, nonetheless.

Christ, though, I don't see in the film. In THE TREE OF LIFE, Christ is conspicuously absent.

Edited by Ryan H.

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It very well could make room for the mythological view of Eden, being that it seems to view humanity

as originally being created wonderful by God, yet existing in a fallen world.

Except I'm not sure that humanity ever seems to have genuinely fallen in THE TREE OF LIFE. There is a kind of disorder of the human state suggested here, but it never really suggests there was a time or period before such disorder (unless we're to believe in an idyllic childhood, and somehow Jack departs from the inherent proper state of mind through the influences of his parents). The narrative in the cosmic section is evolutionary history, a story of perpetual conflict, violence, and development, and within it, we never get a look at a pre-fall humanity. Indeed, despite the film's cosmic scope, there seems to be little consideration of the story of humanity itself, which strikes me as a major problem with the film.

I can see what your saying. The film really doesn't touch much on the beginnings of the human race. We are just sort of there.

Maybe as a Christian I would put my views of the world being fallen in some sort of way on to the film, while an evolutionary athiest would view

the films world as just being the result of it's evolution.

For me the creation sequence is pure proof of an incredible and intelligent creator, whearas to said athiest it could just speak of what a fascinating place

the universe has developed into.

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Ryan, I must disagree with your assertion that Christ is absent. He may be "absent" in the way he is "absent" in Job, but He's most certainly not absent.

Unless you take the lingering shot of Him during the sermon on Job to be incidental or otherwise of little consequence.

And, that is, if you take the Agnus Dei in the choral music during the climactic reconciliation of the film to be similarly inconsequential: “Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace.”

And, if you think, there is not a double meaning to Mrs. O'Brien's powerful Marian-seeming proclamation: "I give you my son."

Then, yes, Christ is "absent."

And I don't think there are mere "suggestions" of grace, faith, reconciliation, sin, "lostness," forgiveness. Not to mention Pauline quotations of sinfully existential plight. No, these seem like the very essential terms of the Christian vocabulary.

If you understand the nature of sin to be prideful self-absorption and the nature of grace to be the way of gift, creation, forgiveness, salvation, et al., then I think these are more than mere suggestions in the film.

But, ultimately, I do see the issue at stake: if disorder is just an inherent part of Creation, then that would seem to be a problem, but I don't think this is expressly posited in the film...

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Tyler said.

Yeah, it doesn't work as a literal Genesis creation story. With the way I interpreted that sequence-- that it was replaying God's response to Job in visual terms, and relating it to the son's death, especially the mother's reaction--it doesn't take God out of the picture. After all, God is the floating light thing that keeps showing up, right?

Edited by Attica

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old wave wrote:

: Post-Eden, the "natural order of things" IS the way of will.

Not in the way these terms have been used here. Post-Eden, our will has been corrupted and our ability to exercise it is frequently overwhelmed by natural forces over which we have little to no control. To act wilfully is to try to rise above the impersonal forces of nature; to act wilfully is, in its own way, to transcend nature, to be in a state of grace.

I disagree, and I can't see how that make sense. If simply "acting willfully" transcends nature, then what do you make of the phrase "human nature" and all it denotes and connotes?

: After all, immediately after the mother claims that nothing bad can come to someone who follows the way of grace, we hear about the death of the middle brother. Since he, along with his mother, are avatars of the way of grace, this early death (especially if you take into consideration Malick's brother's own suicide) serves as a direct challenge to this view.

Is committing suicide what one does when one is an avatar of the way of grace?

I can't understand how you got that from that sentence. I said that the brother's death serves as a DIRECT CHALLENGE to the idea that nothing bad can come to someone who follows the way of grace; which is what we see this brother symbolizing during the movie.

Edited by old wave

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Ryan, I must disagree with your assertion that Christ is absent. He may be "absent" in the way he is "absent" in Job, but He's most certainly not absent.

Unless you take the lingering shot of Him during the sermon on Job to be incidental or otherwise of little consequence.

And, that is, if you take the Agnus Dei in the choral music during the climactic reconciliation of the film to be similarly inconsequential: “Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace.”

And, if you think, there is not a double meaning to Mrs. O'Brien's powerful Marian-seeming proclamation: "I give you my son."

Then, yes, Christ is "absent."

And I don't think there are mere "suggestions" of grace, faith, reconciliation, sin, "lostness," forgiveness. Not to mention Pauline quotations of sinfully existential plight. No, these seem like the very essential terms of the Christian vocabulary.

If you understand the nature of sin to be prideful self-absorption and the nature of grace to be the way of gift, creation, forgiveness, salvation, et al., then I think these are more than mere suggestions in the film.

But, ultimately, I do see the issue at stake: if disorder is just an inherent part of Creation, then that would seem to be a problem, but I don't think this is expressly posited in the film...

Sure.... And maybe their is an element of Christ anywhere were there is mercy and grace. A microcosm of the macrocosm of a cosmic living Christ........ if that makes sense.

Of course one of the major themes in this film is grace.

Edited by Attica

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"Even if the Genesis 1 account isn't literal then there is also the fact that Adam is placed in Christ's geneology in the New Testament. I used to take Genesis one literally, but am now more inclined to view it as a story or myth about something true. Maybe even like a folktale about something that really happened, that is spiritually true but not completely historically true. Yet probably has some elements of historic truth."

Exactly, Attica. And I, too, take the film to touch on this mystery in significant ways.

"Of course one of the major themes in this film is grace."

Yes, indeed. I hope you'll have the chance to take a look at my review, Attica. I think you''ll find it interesting. It focuses on the outworking of grace and grace's absence in the film.

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"Even if the Genesis 1 account isn't literal then there is also the fact that Adam is placed in Christ's geneology in the New Testament. I used to take Genesis one literally, but am now more inclined to view it as a story or myth about something true. Maybe even like a folktale about something that really happened, that is spiritually true but not completely historically true. Yet probably has some elements of historic truth."

Exactly, Attica. And I, too, take the film to touch on this mystery in significant ways.

"Of course one of the major themes in this film is grace."

Yes, indeed. I hope you'll have the chance to take a look at my review, Attica. I think you''ll find it interesting. It focuses on the outworking of grace and grace's absence in the film.

I'll have a read. :)

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It very well could make room for the mythological view of Eden, being that it seems to view humanity

as originally being created wonderful by God, yet existing in a fallen world.

Except I'm not sure that humanity ever seems to have genuinely fallen in THE TREE OF LIFE. There is a kind of disorder of the human state suggested here, but it never really suggests there was a time or period before such disorder (unless we're to believe in an idyllic childhood, and somehow Jack departs from the inherent proper state of mind through the influences of his parents). The narrative in the cosmic section is evolutionary history, a story of perpetual conflict, violence, and development, and within it, we never get a look at a pre-fall humanity. Indeed, despite the film's cosmic scope, there seems to be little consideration of the story of humanity itself, which strikes me as a major problem with the film.

I guess if you construe the cosmic stuff as being a Genesis account of creation, then that makes sense. But if you think of it as the response to the Mother's question "why?" and the ensuing cosmic voyage, then it directly mirrors God's response to Job. God's narrative of creation in response to Job doesn't speak of the fall of humanity, or even humanity itself. Neither does it distinguish between between pre and post fall Earth, just blends the two together. I think this Malick wanted us to think of Job, not Genesis, which is why he goes out of his way to make at least two overt references to the story of Job.

Edited by old wave

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It very well could make room for the mythological view of Eden, being that it seems to view humanity

as originally being created wonderful by God, yet existing in a fallen world.

Except I'm not sure that humanity ever seems to have genuinely fallen in THE TREE OF LIFE. There is a kind of disorder of the human state suggested here, but it never really suggests there was a time or period before such disorder (unless we're to believe in an idyllic childhood, and somehow Jack departs from the inherent proper state of mind through the influences of his parents). The narrative in the cosmic section is evolutionary history, a story of perpetual conflict, violence, and development, and within it, we never get a look at a pre-fall humanity. Indeed, despite the film's cosmic scope, there seems to be little consideration of the story of humanity itself, which strikes me as a major problem with the film.

I guess if you construe the cosmic stuff as being a Genesis account of creation, then that makes sense. But if you think of it as the response to the Mother's question "why?" and the ensuing cosmic voyage, then it directly mirrors God's response to Job. God's narrative of creation in response to Job doesn't speak of the fall of humanity, or even humanity itself. Neither does it distinguish between between pre and post fall Earth, just blends the two together. I think this Malick wanted us to think of Job, not Genesis, which is why he goes out of his way to make at least two overt references to the story of Job.

I kind of read that sequence as not just speaking of the Genesis account or the evolution of creation, or maybe even really touching on that at all, as much as speaking of God's continuing creative activity.

In a very real sense God is creating now.... and now.... and now.

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Yes, I think God's response to Job is not merely a "you as a creature can't comprehend the Creator's purposes", but is also, in response to suffering: "Creation." That verse in Job has creation - then, now, and in the future - implicit in the response. Genesis and that verse in Job seem inextricably connected.

I find Barth's idea of the "shadow-side" of creation to be helpful here: God didn't create evil and suffering, but by creating free human beings, He created the possibility. Some people cringe at this and even assign culpability. I think it beyond us to see the infinite Good of Creation overwhelming the realized possibility of its earthly shadow-side.

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And I don't think there are mere "suggestions" of grace, faith, reconciliation, sin, "lostness," forgiveness. Not to mention Pauline quotations of sinfully existential plight. No, these seem like the very essential terms of the Christian vocabulary.

If liberal Christianity has taught us anything, it's that the words can be used, the same rituals can be exercised, but the intended meaning can be different. THE TREE OF LIFE is crammed full of citations of Christianity, but I am not sure that Christ himself lies at the heart of this film.

But, ultimately, I do see the issue at stake: if disorder is just an inherent part of Creation, then that would seem to be a problem, but I don't think this is expressly posited in the film...

Expressly posited? No. But suggested? Maybe.

I guess if you construe the cosmic stuff as being a Genesis account of creation, then that makes sense.

Well, I don't think it's a Genesis account, per se. I think it could be fairly categorized as what Malick calls it in the 2007 draft, "a new song, tell a new story; one which, mindful of the ancient tales, takes its inspiration from science," the beginnings of a "search for the permanent among the fleeting and mutable, for that which endures through the spectacle of ceaseless change."

God's narrative of creation in response to Job doesn't speak of the fall of humanity, or even humanity itself.

What Malick does with the creation here is not the same as the role of the creation citations in Job, so we must be careful how far we take the parallels.

I think this Malick wanted us to think of Job, not Genesis, which is why he goes out of his way to make at least two overt references to the story of Job.

I think Malick evokes both Job and Genesis.

In a very real sense God is creating now.... and now.... and now.

I think Malick would very much like that sentiment.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Yes, I think God's response to Job is not merely a "you as a creature can't comprehend the Creator's purposes", but is also, in response to suffering: "Creation." That verse in Job has creation - then, now, and in the future - implicit in the response. Genesis and that verse in Job seem inextricably connected.

I find Barth's idea of the "shadow-side" of creation to be helpful here: God didn't create evil and suffering, but by creating free human beings, He created the possibility. Some people cringe at this and even assign culpability. I think it beyond us to see the infinite Good of Creation overwhelming the realized possibility of its earthly shadow-side.

He did indeed create the possibility.... he also knew that we would fall. It's not as though the fall fooled God. So I would think that God would be culpable. Except, I think that it's all part of a greater plan and

purpose..... although it's surely hard to see sometimes. But it has to do with grace. If we had never fallen into sin we would have know way of understanding God's grace........ and therefore no way of truly

understanding how much he loves us. The New Testament also says that the people who sin the worst have a greater understanding of God's mercy when they accept Christ. In other words without sin we would

never really truly understand mercy. That's a mind bender for you...... maybe sin is ultimately part of the plan.

I think that at the end of the day we will find out that it's all about grace.

Anyhow I agree with you. It's interesting to think that in Job; God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind (or cloud depending on your translation.) Of course the New Testament says that God is in all things. I

would think that Job portrays creation as something cosmic through which God can speak.

Remember Job is the first written scripture, and he existed before Moses wrote the Torah. Job indicates that God was speaking to people (Job at least) through his creation before the scriptures. Of course he also spoke

to Moses out of a burning bush.

I think that evil existed before human beings, in the sense of the Devil. But then the question arises..... when did Lucifer fall? Was it before Adam and Eve? Or after they were created, but before they were tempted?

You see Christianity often thinks of Eden as being this luxurious place without evil. But whenever Satan came on the scene, it surely wouldn't have been the perfect paradise with him there (were the fallen angels there to,

I suspect so.) He was after all in Eden Tempting Adam and Eve to sin against God. Another thing is..... Adam sinned in Eden before the fall.

I just don't view the fall as being as huge (if that's the right word) as some Christian traditions do. Some Christians view it as Adam and Eve were in paradise and then after the fall the world became a mass of evil.

I view it more in the sense that we are in exile from Eden. In the Old testament God sent Israel into exile because of their rebellion, their temple was destroyed, then they repented and returned from exile where

they had an even bigger and better temple built.

I think that those who accept Christ will come out of exile (or are already coming) to a place that is even bigger and better than Eden...... a true paradise.......and that it was all ultimately part of God's plan to bring us to

this place. Some of the early Christians called this recapitulation.

So I don't think evil is a created thing.... but rather a perversion of something that is good. The perfect order of Creation being twisted into chaos as it were.

That I believe, is the state the world is in now. There is a cosmic chaos or perversion of the good because of evil and sin..... but this is a perversion.... at the core the cosmos is still good. Indeed very good as it was

originally created in Genesis.

It's almost as if the seed of God's creative activity is still very good.... but this seed comes up through a ground that has to differing degrees been affected by sin.

Yet behind the chaos or captivity that goodness is still truly there.

How does one put words to these things.

Possibly there was even some sort of Cosmic chaos in Eden even before the fall. After all Satan and therefore Evil was there.

I don't know.

So what I'm trying to get at....... is that we often see what you speak of as the shadow side...... but need to look deeper still to the goodness still in creation. In fact inherent in

Creation. Creation that a loving God is in.... and even speaking to Job and Moses through.

This film does that. It shows the darkside. But also shows the magnificence of creation. The true Cosmic goodness and wonder of it all.

Edited by Attica

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I don't disagree at all. By speaking of the "shadow-side", I meant not at all to say that this "shadow side" was the whole story...Goodness is no doubt pervasive in Creation - such that the shadow-side will eventually be swallowed up, particularly because of the Word made flesh in Christ.

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"If liberal Christianity has taught us anything, it's that the words can be used, the same rituals can be exercised, but the intended meaning can be different. THE TREE OF LIFE is crammed full of citations of Christianity, but I am not sure that Christ himself lies at the heart of this film."

I don't really know what point you mean to make by comparing what I've said about The Tree of Life to "liberal Christianity." Obviously the role of film is not to preach. Malick is not responsible to provide the Romans Road for us in his story. In order for a story to have explicitly Christian themes, I think less is required of it than for a preacher to preach an explicitly Christian message. Both are realms of truth-telling, but the roles and aims of both are qualitatively different.

And, to be honest, while it is interesting to hear about this 2007 script you keep citing, I don't know that it is all that helpful, really. Obviously, the film is the final product and who knows how it has changed since that script. What do we have to go by but the film itself? Even if Malick has some fuzzy or not-so-"orthodox" views on some things, this does not change the impact of the film as a finished work of art. Malick's intentions matter if they can be shown to be explicitly realized in the film itself somehow. I don't find the power of the Christian themes in the film to be diminished.

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In order for a story to have explicitly Christian themes, I think less is required of it than for a preacher to preach an explicitly Christian message.

Sure, though the more you start dealing with explicitly religious concepts, the more the game starts shifting. I'm not sure Malick's emphases here are particularly Christian, per se.

Even if Malick has some fuzzy or not-so-"orthodox" views on some things, this does not change the impact of the film as a finished work of art.

It does if those views are nevertheless present in the finished product. Which I don't think they all are, and I think the film Malick ultimately produced is more Christian than what he put on the page in 2007. But there are still some gray areas in the film.

In truth, THE TREE OF LIFE would be a better film if it was more explicitly Christian. This is not always so with movies that deal with spiritual matters, but here, where it deals with the imminence of God and questions of theodicy, stronger citations of the incarnation and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ would only strengthen the film's thematic development (and they would not be hard to work into the film as we have it, either). Christ is the apex of all the "ultimate" ideas the film wishes to grapple with, the place where all these questions meet. Instead, the film places the weight of God's participation in this story in his imminence in nature, which is not all that satisfying.

Edited by Ryan H.

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I can't say that I am in disagreement with your most recent responses, Ryan.

I guess what I've been aiming at here is to say that the film itself actually has much that is "Christian" about it - and in such a way that its emphases are something Everyman can relate to. To put it more forcefully, I would say that the film is incomprehensible without a Judeo-Christian framework for approaching it. I find it interesting and even compelling that the film does not even raise the question "Does God exist", but instead assumes His existence and invites everyone to wrestle with the natural questions that flow from His existence. What is compelling about this is that I don't find too many critics taking offense to this or thinking less of the film because of it. Our questions are Job's questions - not the atheistic skeptic's.

Also, another thing I noticed during my second viewing on Friday night was that in the one scene when Jack is on the playground and he is wondering where God is, the camera approach in the scene was striking to me. It seemed to me as if the shot indicated that God was present among us - right there with us. This could be poor film criticism on my part, but the timing of the questioning along with the angle and approach of the camera shot really struck me.

Which is also what struck me about the lingering shot of the Ecce Homo portrayal during the preacher's sermon on Job. In our existence - in our suffering - He is here among us, having suffered for us. He is not indifferent.

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Also, another thing I noticed during my second viewing on Friday night was that in the one scene when Jack is on the playground and he is wondering where God is, the camera approach in the scene was striking to me. It seemed to me as if the shot indicated that God was present among us - right there with us. This could be poor film criticism on my part, but the timing of the questioning along with the angle and approach of the camera shot really struck me.

There were several times when the camera work made me think of the scenes in Wings of Desire where the angels come up behind people and try to silently comfort them--except that in Tree of Life, we're seeing it from the angels' POV.

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Ryan H said:

but here, where it deals with the imminence of God and questions of theodicy, stronger citations of the incarnation and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ would only strengthen the film's thematic development (and they would not be hard to work into the film as we have it, either). Christ is the apex of all the "ultimate" ideas the film wishes to grapple with, the place where all these questions meet. Instead, the film places the weight of God's participation on this story in his imminence in nature, which is not all that satisfying.

I think might be right in a certain sense. Even a few shots in the church of Christ in the stainedglass windows would bring him more into the forefront. Maybe even some shots somehow showing Christ as part of nature.

But then It could come to the risky place of being to obvious, which could spoil the mystery that the film has achieved.

I don't think having some more Christ imagery would be too preachy (in this particular film.) But too obvious? I don't know. We are talking about this film as touching on Christ's immanence in creation....... but I would think that it also could be read as questioning this. Questioning where God is there amongst it all, if he even is there, and if so, whether he cares. Would more Christian imagery or content take away from these dynamics, or would they just lead to the questions of whether Christ is present, instead of a possibly Christless diety? I'm not sure?

Nicholas said:

I find it interesting and even compelling that the film does not even raise the question "Does God exist", but instead assumes His existence

To us the film may seem to take the stance that God just naturally exists with out questioning it. But I'm not sure that everyone would read it that way?

Edited by Attica

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Ryan H said:

but here, where it deals with the imminence of God and questions of theodicy, stronger citations of the incarnation and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ would only strengthen the film's thematic development (and they would not be hard to work into the film as we have it, either). Christ is the apex of all the "ultimate" ideas the film wishes to grapple with, the place where all these questions meet. Instead, the film places the weight of God's participation on this story in his imminence in nature, which is not all that satisfying.

I think might be right in a certain sense. Even a few shots in the church of Christ in the stainedglass windows would bring him more into the forefront. Maybe even some shots somehow showing Christ as part of nature.

But then It could come to the risky place of being to obvious, which could spoil the mystery that the film has achieved.

I don't think having some more Christ imagery would be to preachy (in this particular film.) But to obvious? I don't know. We are talking about this film as touching on Christ's immanence in

creation....... but I would think that it also could be read as questioning this. Questioning where God is there amongst it all, if he even is there, and if so, whether he cares. Would more Christian imagery or

content take away from these dynamics, or would they just lead to the questions of whether Christ is present, instead of a possibly Christless diety? I'm not sure?

Nicholas said:

I find it interesting and even compelling that the film does not even raise the question "Does God exist", but instead assumes His existence

To us the film may seem to take the stance that God just naturally exists with out questioning it. But I'm not sure that everyone would read it that way?

I understand what you're saying. Certainly people could still read it in different ways. But it seems to me that by starting with the passage from Job, those questions are almost out of the purview of the film's scope. Of course, the film could inspire intensely personal reactions that could be outside of - even contrary to - this scope, but it seems to me that the issue at stake is one's wrestling with faith in God - not so much wrestling with whether or not He exists. When I say faith, I don't mean faith that he exists, but faith in the sense that one is committed to Him - in spite of suffering, death, loss, and the alienating effect of sin.

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Nicholas said:

I understand what you're saying. Certainly people could still read it in different ways. But it seems to me that by starting with the passage from Job, those questions are almost out of the purview of the film's

scope. Of course, the film could inspire intensely personal reactions that could be outside of - even contrary to - this scope, but it seems to me that the issue at stake is one's wrestling with faith in God -

not so much wrestling with whether or not He exists. When I say faith, I don't mean faith that he exists, but faith in the sense that one is committed to Him - in spite of suffering, death, loss, and the

alienating effect of sin.

Sure. There is no doubt that the passage from Job is very significant. I like the idea of wrestling with faith in God. Part of this idea is the question of where is he? How involved is he? Does he really care?

This film has a good balance in wrestling with these questions. If it had of played God as to involved (or really involved in obvious ways) then of course the wrestling ends. But I think Ryan is on to something

with the idea that the film could have more shown the idea that the God to be questioned and wrestled with is the truly Christian God. But would that ruin the questions and the wrestling?

The quote from Job to us means that the film isn't wrestling with whether or not Christ exists. Yet is that how, for instance, a Jewish person would read the film. They may not see the film as wrestling with whether

or not Yahweh exists, but very much wrestling with whether or not Jack's family's view of God exists (they were Catholics after all.) Or even whether or not they truly believed in God (their going to church might

have been just a cultural thing.) More Christian imagery would certainly have resonated with me more. But was that the films intentions?

The film could be perceived as asking. How do we see God? Is God present or has he just started it all and left us to our own devices? Jack as an adult certainly seemed to be in a sad existence without God.

But I would think that the film leaves the question open as to whether or not God was really there for him...... or distant.

FWIW.... As you probably gleaned from my other posts. To my mind the answer to the questions is a resounding yes. God was there amongst them, even if they didn't really know it.

Edited by Attica

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I noticed that Victor Morton, on Twitter, raised his rating of the film from a 9 to a 10 after a second viewing. It's almost enough to forgive him for all the shots he's taken at the Coen Brothers in recent days. ;)

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Yes, indeed. I hope you'll have the chance to take a look at my review, Attica. I think you''ll find it interesting. It focuses on the outworking of grace and grace's absence in the film.

Finally got to reading your review and thought that it was great. I like that this film is raising up different thoughts to reflect on.

I'm going to ponder on your review some.

Just for the record..... I had understood what you meant by the shadowside. Some of my comments, like in my last post, were not intended to be argument....... but

instead speculation.

Edited by Attica

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My friend Esther's thoughts about which son dies. She's seen Tree of Life twice, BTW.

Spoilers throughout.

Esther: it was the one that played the guitar

who was the youngest, I think

me: how do you know that?

9:43 AM Esther: when she first receives the news, it pans his room and the guitar is there...also, most of the most poignant relationship is between the oldest and youngest son

and the trust and breaking thereof that was referred to several times throughout the movie

plus he was the one that was so very different from his two brothers

9:44 AM and there was this constant questioning of, if anybody had to die, why was it him, he was so unworthy of death

9:45 AM

he took such deep delight/care/deliberation in life...he even refused to partake in typical boyish destruction (fights, killing the frog with the rocket, etc)...instead he created music and beauty and truth...but not like his father created music. He wasn't selfish in his creating....

me: he's [the middle son] closer with Jack, so I thought it made more sense that grown-up Jack was still so haunted by it

9:49 AM Esther: No, I think it was the juxtaposition of Jacks' perception of who he was compared to who his youngest brother was...there was this parallel between Jack and his dad compared with the youngest and his mother...when the youngest died, it was (in a weird way) like his mom had died even though he wished for his dad to die

Jack thought his dad deserved death (and so, in a way, did he) but if anybody deserved life, it was his mother...and consequently his youngest brother

9:50 AM

Dang, that movie is chalk-full of parallels and symbolism

Edited by Tyler

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Nicholas wrote:

: Again, how is the way of grace "disembodied" if it is persons who are living it?

I don't recall saying it was "disembodied" in the first place.

: Furthermore, what is your interpretation of the last three shots?

I only remember the very last shot, of the bridge (which, on a "nature" vs. "grace" spectrum, would be ... I'm not sure where; it's clearly not a natural formation, but we're not used to thinking of giant structures like that as expressions of grace, per se; if anything, it's an expression of will). Was the sunflower shot one of the other two shots?

Ryan H. wrote:

: But if I had to guess, the way the film connects Jack's life to the cosmic sequence seems to suggest that sin/disorder is really just an outgrowth of the natural flow-and-ebb of time, and that it eventually all comes out right in the end, not that sin/disorder is part of a grand catastrophe that introduced death and suffering to human experience, that it is a kind of penalty.

But why should we insist that sin introduced death to the HUMAN experience, specifically? Once we accept that plants and animals were dying -- both individually and as species -- for millions of years prior to the existence of humans, we are faced with the question of how death fits into Creation, period. I don't see how we can single humans out or separate them from the rest of this creative process, especially when St. Paul ties the redemption of humanity to the redemption of creation as a whole ("We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time", etc.).

: . . . he didn't seem to believe in unique human beings (he describes humanity as being part of an evolutionary continuum, and in the script, actually gives us a glimpse of humanity's evolutionary future).

Oh, THAT sounds interesting. Tell us more!

old wave wrote:

: If simply "acting willfully" transcends nature, then what do you make of the phrase "human nature" and all it denotes and connotes?

"Human nature" is one of those impersonal forces that people try to transcend by "acting wilfully". This gets to the heart of the question about free will: do we have it? can we have it? does it even exist? Or is every choice that every person makes simply the end result of various impersonal forces that dictate our actions? I think MANY of our choices are actually little more than "force of habit", as the saying goes, and this is why religious traditions have always encouraged people to DISCIPLINE themselves and DEVELOP new habits, through fasting and prayer etc.

: : : After all, immediately after the mother claims that nothing bad can come to someone who follows the way of grace, we hear about the death of the middle brother. Since he, along with his mother, are avatars of the way of grace, this early death (especially if you take into consideration Malick's brother's own suicide) serves as a direct challenge to this view.

: :

: : Is committing suicide what one does when one is an avatar of the way of grace?

:

: I can't understand how you got that from that sentence.

I didn't "get that" from anything. I asked a question. I posed a "direct challenge" to your idea that the son in question had continued in the way of grace. We simply don't know what had happened between childhood and adulthood, there.

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