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The Tree of Life (2011)

Terrence Malick

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#641 Overstreet

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Posted 16 September 2011 - 03:14 PM

Wow. I just realized that Malick totally ripped off Wim Wenders. What a copycat.

Warning: Spoilers!


Edited by Overstreet, 16 September 2011 - 03:15 PM.


#642 Overstreet

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 05:00 PM

I've bolded the section of this review that worked better than caffeine to wake me up and get my adrenalin pumping this morning. Yeah, incredulity is an effective wake-up, if not a pleasant one.

Oh, this excerpt is from Charles Muedede's review of the new Tom Twyker film, in Seattle's free, weekly newspaper The Stranger:

Let's begin with the essence of this film: Two Berlin cultural workers, Hanna (Sophie Rois) and Simon (Sebastian Schipper), fall in love with a scientist (Devid Striesow), and in the process are transformed into the family of the future, the post-Freudian family, the family that has a new set of problems and values. This family doesn't care if you are gay or straight. Sex is just sex. This family is also thoroughly cosmopolitan and grounded by an urban/rational ethic that has naturalized public transportation, high-density environments, and the consumption of quality art, foods, and entertainment. Stephen J. Gould is the saint of this family.

Now recall how Tree of Life was about a sensitive boy dealing with his harsh father. The director of that awful film, Terrence Malick, only took us back into the cave of the Oedipal complex. Malick clearly thought that this muddy and emotional complex is the final meaning of human life. 3, directed by Tom Tykwer—he also directed Run Lola Run and The International—has none of this mythical nonsense. Tykwer knows, as the great dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson put it, "this is the age of reality, this is the age of science and [bio]technology." The problem for humans, then, is how to create or invent relationships that reflect our current, scientific reality.


Ahhhhh, Seattle.

Edited by Overstreet, 06 November 2011 - 05:02 PM.


#643 Anders

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 05:22 PM

I've bolded the section of this review that worked better than caffeine to wake me up and get my adrenalin pumping this morning. Yeah, incredulity is an effective wake-up, if not a pleasant one.

Oh, this excerpt is from Charles Muedede's review of the new Tom Twyker film, in Seattle's free, weekly newspaper The Stranger:

Let's begin with the essence of this film: Two Berlin cultural workers, Hanna (Sophie Rois) and Simon (Sebastian Schipper), fall in love with a scientist (Devid Striesow), and in the process are transformed into the family of the future, the post-Freudian family, the family that has a new set of problems and values. This family doesn't care if you are gay or straight. Sex is just sex. This family is also thoroughly cosmopolitan and grounded by an urban/rational ethic that has naturalized public transportation, high-density environments, and the consumption of quality art, foods, and entertainment. Stephen J. Gould is the saint of this family.

Now recall how Tree of Life was about a sensitive boy dealing with his harsh father. The director of that awful film, Terrence Malick, only took us back into the cave of the Oedipal complex. Malick clearly thought that this muddy and emotional complex is the final meaning of human life. 3, directed by Tom Tykwer—he also directed Run Lola Run and The International—has none of this mythical nonsense. Tykwer knows, as the great dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson put it, "this is the age of reality, this is the age of science and [bio]technology." The problem for humans, then, is how to create or invent relationships that reflect our current, scientific reality.


Ahhhhh, Seattle.


This guy should read Ken Morefield's essay on Tykwer in Vol. II of FAITH & SPIRITUALITY IN MASTERS OF WORLD CINEMA. Not sure he gets either Tykwer or "our current, scientific reality."

#644 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 09:32 PM

I thought Freudian psychology, with its Oedipal complexes etc., WAS supposed to be part of the great new scientific project that displaced earlier myths and spiritual systems etc.

#645 Darrel Manson

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 10:47 AM

Want to see it on big screen again? It'll be at Whitehead Film Festival in January.

Edited by Darrel Manson, 07 November 2011 - 10:47 AM.


#646 Tyler

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 01:27 PM

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf74qellkok&feature=related"]http://www.youtube.c...feature=related[/url]

Videos for other directors here.

#647 Overstreet

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 12:32 PM

Vic Sizemore's post on The Tree of Life is a wonderful addition the burgeoning stock of good writing about this film. It's up at Image today.

#648 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 01:01 AM

Storyboard artist Mark Bristol posted some deleted concepts to his website the other day, but has since taken them down. However, the eagle-eyed Malick fans at The Playlist captured a few before he did so, and apparently, at one point, the film was going to depict Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel and Seth at Lake Turkana in Kenya, i.e. the place that is regarded by modern anthropologists as the birthplace of humankind because of all the hominid fossils there.

#649 Ryan H.

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 06:37 AM

Interesting stuff. Maybe we'll see it in the extended version?

Edited by Ryan H., 04 January 2012 - 06:46 AM.


#650 Greg P

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 07:32 AM

Not that I have anything new to add after 33 pages of discussion/debate, but I'm just getting around to a second viewing on DVD and was wondering if anyone else found more to mine and enjoy on the small screen...

I've found that watching it for a second time has made some things much clearer, namely that it's very obviously the middle son who has died. This was not so clear to me for some reason in the theater. I love that Malick reveals this in the opening minutes, specifically in the mother's voiceover about "no one who trusts in grace comes to a bad end" and Malick deliberately chooses to contradict this notion by cutting to a shot of the middle son walking away and turning back plaintively, then immediately cutting to the repeating motif of the raging waterfall.

I haven't read most of the discussion, so forgive me if this has been batted around already, but are we to assume that the middle son committed suicide? He was artistic and obviously of a more sensitive disposition, and after his death the father mentions painfully that the boy used to punch himself in the face.

All in all, a much more potent experience... this second go-around.

#651 Timothy Zila

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 09:54 PM

Not that I have anything new to add after 33 pages of discussion/debate, but I'm just getting around to a second viewing on DVD and was wondering if anyone else found more to mine and enjoy on the small screen...

I've found that watching it for a second time has made some things much clearer, namely that it's very obviously the middle son who has died. This was not so clear to me for some reason in the theater. I love that Malick reveals this in the opening minutes, specifically in the mother's voiceover about "no one who trusts in grace comes to a bad end" and Malick deliberately chooses to contradict this notion by cutting to a shot of the middle son walking away and turning back plaintively, then immediately cutting to the repeating motif of the raging waterfall.

I haven't read most of the discussion, so forgive me if this has been batted around already, but are we to assume that the middle son committed suicide? He was artistic and obviously of a more sensitive disposition, and after his death the father mentions painfully that the boy used to punch himself in the face.

All in all, a much more potent experience... this second go-around.


Was there anything explicit the states/implies that the death was a suicide? I could see how you might get that impression, but I'm not sure Malick ever tries to imply that (or, if he does, it's in a pretty cryptic manner). I believe one of Malick's brothers actually committed suicide, which is perhaps why it's rather vague in the film. The film is obviously semi-biographical in nature, but I find (as a writer) it's best to avoid certain things so as to stop becoming too biographical (which somehow proves creatively stifling).

#652 Darrel Manson

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:01 PM

Was there anything explicit the states/implies that the death was a suicide? I could see how you might get that impression, but I'm not sure Malick ever tries to imply that (or, if he does, it's in a pretty cryptic manner). I believe one of Malick's brothers actually committed suicide, which is perhaps why it's rather vague in the film. The film is obviously semi-biographical in nature, but I find (as a writer) it's best to avoid certain things so as to stop becoming too biographical (which somehow proves creatively stifling).

I saw it on big screen for the 3rd time last weekend. There is nothing that really points to it being a suicide, except what we can read into the scene where Mr. O'Brien reflects on making his son feel ashamed turning music pages as a son. Nobody in the class had made that connection until I brought up Malick's background. Then I bet they all wanted to see that section again.

Since that scenario played on only slightly removed from our own lives last month, I saw a great deal of what people close to me were going though in that scene. It had it down exactly.

#653 Nick Olson

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 12:03 PM

Was not quite sure where to post this, but I'm sure many of you will find this roundtable interesting. Plummer is making headlines for a few disparaging comments (with some praise sprinkled in) regarding working with Malick. The other actors seem shocked, except Clooney, who seems to nod knowingly. This type of sentiment doesn't seem to be affecting Malick's casting too much.

David Ansen: "The New Land." Huh?

And Charlize Theron KIND OF feels like she's in character as Mavis. Just sayin'.

Not sure if I can embed this link.

Edited by Nicholas, 27 January 2012 - 12:23 PM.


#654 Overstreet

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 12:49 PM

I had the privilege of showing the film to Eugene and Jan Peterson, John and Wendy Wilson, Diane Glancy, Luci Shaw, John Hoyte, Charlie Peacock, Andi Ashworth, Rudy and Shirley Nelson, Rick and Ginger Geyer, and several other writers and artists last weekend. We talked about it all the next day. I also showed them Seraphine and Of Gods and Men. Eugene gave me a hug after Seraphine and said, "I'm seeing so many wonderful things that I might never have seen! Jan and I got Netflix this year, and we have no idea what to watch, and everything we've seen has been horrible!"

That's a moment I won't soon forget.

#655 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 05:02 PM

Overstreet wrote:
: I had the privilege of showing the film to Eugene and Jan Peterson, John and Wendy Wilson, Diane Glancy, Luci Shaw, John Hoyte, Charlie Peacock, Andi Ashworth, Rudy and Shirley Nelson, Rick and Ginger Geyer, and several other writers and artists last weekend.

Dude!

Nicholas wrote:
: The other actors seem shocked, except Clooney, who seems to nod knowingly.

Given the two seconds of screentime Clooney got in The Thin Red Line, it's not hard to see why. (But hey, it's stunt casting like that which has allowed Fox Video to include The Thin Red Line in George Clooney value-pack-priced boxed sets!)

#656 Overstreet

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 05:07 PM

Dude!


Um, yes? Problem? It was a privilege I thought I might gratefully share here without worrying about anybody treating it as a brag. When I mentioned it on Facebook, though, somebody snarked that I had just boasted the "biggest Christian name-drop ever." I took it down to avoid a ridiculous argument about the difference between a gratefully recounting a wonderful meeting and "name-dropping." But if sharing it here gives the wrong impression, then let's delete these last few posts.

It's interesting: This retreat took place at Laity Lodge near Kerville, Texas. Recently, after an intriguing Facebook note from a friend made me curious, I asked the executive director there to look into their records of guests who have stayed in their solitary retreat cabin called The Quiet House. We were both delighted to learn that "Terry Malick" has stayed there himself on retreat.

And that's not very far from Smithville, where some of Tree of Life was filmed.

Edited by Overstreet, 27 January 2012 - 05:40 PM.


#657 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 03:18 AM

Overstreet wrote:
: Um, yes? Problem?

I just find it interesting that you went one way there and another way here.

And it's kind of amusing that this came up at the same time as a reference to Malick's blink-and-you'll-miss-them use of celebrity cameos. :)

#658 andrew_b_welch

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 09:53 AM

I haven’t had time to read through the entire thread here, so forgive me if this is repetitive in any way…

Since watching The Tree of Life about a month ago with part of my family, my view of it has changed somewhat. It seems that what so many Christian viewers want to do with Malick’s film is view it as a movie about God’s sovereignty.

Obviously, there’s plenty about it that encourages that reading, not the least of which is the entire creation sequence, but watching it for the third time, I was struck more by the movie’s humanity than its spirituality.

In other words, I’m not so sure that Malick is making a grand theological statement. I think, more than anything, he wants to mimic how the mind works, how memories flow and become exaggerated or even grotesque over time, and our increasing ability to grasp what we previously couldn’t as we move up and up and up, with the heaven sequence at the end representing not a literal depiction of heaven but a future moment in which (in the presence of God) human understanding reaches a peak and all questions are settled. After all, upward movement is a theme of the movie, from Mrs. O’Brien pointing up at the sky and saying ,”That’s where God lives,” to the physical and mental growth of young Jack.

So, this in mind, I’d have to say that--for me--The Tree of Life isn’t about sovereignty but about the imperfections of human understanding. These are perhaps just two sides of the same coin, but there it is.

#659 Nick Olson

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 10:39 AM

Hey Andrew,

I haven't read too much about God's "sovereignty" to be honest. I think I've read a great deal more about theodicy, which involves God's sovereignty, but I think is more appropriately specific, and even speaks to some of your thoughts on the human mind's psychological wrestling. The human wrestling you speak of has more to do with trying to come to grips with the nature of God (given the presence of evil and suffering) in such a way that, like Job, we can be filled with gratitude. And I think Creation plays a big role in our wrestling with theodicy.

It's interesting that you mention "upward movement," because it was just brought to my attention recently that the sermon in the middle of the film that the preacher is reading from is Kierkegaard's Upbuilding Discourse on Job and gratitude, and it is called "The Lord Gave, and the Lord Took Away; Blessed be the Name of the Lord."

All in all, I think I would agree with you that the film has an emphasis on the anthropological/pscyhological (I did mention Kierkegaard above!), but I don't know that this lends itself to dichotomizing the "spiritual" and the "human." (Are these not inseparable, anyway?). So I would disagree that the film is not really dealing with grand theological issues. In short, I think it's all there--the "whole horse," as it were.

Anyway, I'm working on an essay dealing with some of these topics, so some of your post caught my attention.

#660 andrew_b_welch

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 11:30 AM

but I don't know that this lends itself to dichotomizing the "spiritual" and the "human." (Are these not inseparable, anyway?). So I would disagree that the film is not really dealing with grand theological issues. In short, I think it's all there--the "whole horse," as it were.


I think I probably put the movie in more of a box than I intended to with my comment—I didn’t mean to push its theological issues to the sidelines. I’ve just noticed that many around me (friends, family, acquaintances) want to draw an objective theological proposition out of it (sovereignty is a particular focus of some churches around me). That kind of response tends to bring out the reactionary in me, which is why I've focused more on the memory/cognition aspects. I do need to be careful, though, about ignoring what it says about God's nature, because that is very much a central issues (if not the central issue).





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