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Blackberry's avatar

Has anyone seen the recent movie "Tree of Life"? What do you think it meant?

Asked by Blackberry (31923points) November 14th, 2011

I just watched it last night and I thought it was absolutely amazing! That creation scene was spectacular.

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16 Answers

Judi's avatar

I think someone asked a questiion about this movie a year or so ago. so I bought the movie. I thought it was really strange.
—Edit, the movie I was thinking of was “The Fountain.”

Blackberry's avatar

@Judi Lol. S’all good.

mazingerz88's avatar

Hmm, I’m resisting watching it since the last film of Terence Malick I saw was more visual poetry than movie. “The New World” with Colin Farrell. But now that you praised Tree of Life, maybe I’ll go see it.

In case you’re interested with other films by the same great director, try looking for Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line.

Blackberry's avatar

@mazingerz88 It actually could be classified as visual poetry. That’s why I liked it. :/

vine's avatar

Having watched it twice in order to make a more informed judgment, I still find myself unqualified to say what it’s about, or to say that it’s about anything at all. It’s a beautiful movie – each individual scene is perfect, probably, except the dinosaurs, which are silly – but its narrative is almost incoherent because many of the scenes have no explicit relationship to one another. They’re simply scenes from a family’s life juxtaposed against macrocosmological imagery, without any ‘comment’ from Malick. Not that there needs to be commentary or explanation or anything (I generally like films that deny the viewer satisfaction / resolution), it’s just that the comparison of human scale v. cosmic scale has been made ad nauseam in literature and film and Malick doesn’t seem to bring anything new to it. He kind of makes the comparison and just lets it hang there.

Of course there’s the stuff about ‘nature’ and ‘grace’ as antithetical forces, the father being the former, mother the latter, as revealed in the voice-overs, but those monologues are so abstract and, like the visual aspect of the film, offer no insight into the meaning of the comparison. They are lovely to listen to but feel insubstantial.

I had a theory after first seeing it that Malick was attempting to juxtapose the ‘grace’ of each beautiful scene (the cinematography is very graceful, everything is gracefully filmed) with the apparent lack of order to those scenes – as if the scenes were shot and then simply shuffled together, and then intermittent images of the cosmos were spliced in, et cetera. This would seem very neatly to encapsulate the nature (orderlessness) v. grace (order) paradigm that he is working with, but I haven’t thought about it too seriously.

@Blackberry – ‘Visual poetry’ is the right way to describe it. Or maybe cinematic poetry, since the soundtrack is also very important there. The problem is that the poetry went on for far too long and had no narrative to sustain it. (There’s a reason the longest poems are always narrative poems, and why, say, e.e. cummings, who also created ‘visual poetry’, wrote mostly short poems. Can you imagine a 50,000-word e.e. cummings poem? Yikes…) If The Tree of Life were just an hour long, or even 90 minutes, I’d probably like it much better.

Certainly one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen, but at 139 plotless minutes it’s also one of the most insufferable.

chyna's avatar

I watched 30 minutes and turned it off. Not my cup of tea or taste in movies.

ddude1116's avatar

I think Malick tried to discover what life is, and also, what death is. He managed to capture the fundamental aspects of growing up during the scenes with the three boys, but the scenes with Sean Penn were there to capture his view of death, or, more appropriately, life after life. At least, that’s my concept so far, much of that is gathered from the title, however. I’ve only seen the film once, and have been aching to see it again, so I intend to revise response then.

@mazingerz88 I would definitely consider this movie visual poetry, since there isn’t a consistent plot, but mere glimpses into the beauty of life and what life beholds as it unfolds. Dialogue is scarce, but images are plentiful, and everything meshes into a glimpse. It isn’t fully clear, but the concepts and ideas are there, easily seen, like the first time you read a poem. It’s a film that demands attention, and multiple visits, but it’s a wholly worthwhile endeavor. It lingers and follows, for it will leave you to ponder life, and the beauty it entails. I intend to revise this portion as well once I rewatch it, which I presume will be within the week.

Blackberry's avatar

@vine That was probably my first time even seeing something like that, so I guess that’s why I found it so great, but you sound like you’ve seen this stuff done to death, so I imagine it can get old lol.

mazingerz88's avatar

@ddude1116 I checked and it seems Tree of Life is out of the theaters in my area. I’m now a bit regretful I didn’t go and see it in the big screen. I don’t mind being mesmerized once in a while by a film with non-linear story. But I think this one is best viewed in a theater, to be able to appreciate its cinematography.

Lol. This has nothing to do with the question but that latest Tron movie, now that’s also a real trip watching!

ddude1116's avatar

@mazingerz88 I saw it in theatres, which was amazing, but I think it’d be best on a medium-sized screen, where it’s in your vision enough that you see everything within your direct line of sight, as opposed to the edges of the screen being in your peripherals. It was kind of like a visual overload where there was just too much to take in at once, especially near the end. Though, I think that might have been intentional, like it was representing life flashing before your eyes.

Bellatrix's avatar

It was in limited release here and I missed it. One of my colleagues said it was great though. I will definitely look out for it on cable now you have said this @Blackberry.

mazingerz88's avatar

Just saw The Tree of Life last night on DVD. ( 1/5/2012 ) All I can say is I’m tired of this Malick crap!

filmfann's avatar

I watched it yesterday. 30 minutes in, I figured it was the best movie I had seen from last year. Once the movie was over, it had lost me, and I was now just confused about it.
It should have been shorter.
As best as I can figure it out, it is the memories of a man (Sean Penn) of his family, and the deaths of his 2 brothers, and the guilt he associated with it. It is also, of course, the story of grace vs. nature.
It probably isn’t the best film from last year, but it is visual poetry (good description @mazingerz88 !).

Gabby101's avatar

I agree, this is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. It felt as if someone had tapped in to random daydreams of the past and even though they weren’t my thoughts or memories, it resonated because, like most people, I struggle with the love I feel for my family intermingled with the disappointment and anger I sometimes also feel. People that have lost someone in their life also share a common pain which also made the movie deeply personal for me. I like the comment that it is poetry. If you think about poetry vs. a novel, you will understand what to expect from the movie.

I too, ache to see this movie again. I guess for some this movie is magical.

Bellatrix's avatar

I still haven’t seen this film. I am waiting for it to come on Foxtel. I am so looking forward to it. Everyone who mentions it says how great it is.

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