The Tree of Life / L'Arbre de la vie (Bilingual) [Blu-ray + DVD]
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The long front lawns of summer afternoons, the flicker of sunlight as it sprays through tree branches, the volcanic surge of the Earth's interior as the planet heaves itself into being--you certainly can't say Terrence Malick lacks for visual expressiveness. The Tree of Life is Malick's long-cherished project, a film that centers on a family in 1950s Waco, Texas, yet also reaches for cosmic significance in the creation of the universe itself. The Texas memories belong to Jack (Sean Penn), a modern man seemingly ground down by the soulless glass-and-metal corporate world that surrounds him. We learn early in the film of a family loss that happened at a later time, but the flashbacks concern only the dark Eden of Jack's childhood: his games with his two younger brothers, his frustrated, bullying father (Brad Pitt), his one-dimensionally radiant mother (Jessica Chastain). None of which unfolds in anything like a conventional narrative, but in a series of disconnected scenes that conjure, with poetry and specificity, a particular childhood realm. The contributions of cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and production designer Jack Fisk cannot be underestimated in that regard, and it should be noted that Brad Pitt contributes his best performance: strong yet haunted.
And how does the Big Bang material (especially a long, trippy sequence in the film's first hour) tie into this material? Yes, well, the answer to that question will determine whether you find Malick's film a profound exploration of existence or crazy-ambitious failure full of beautiful things. Malick's sincerity is winning (and so is his exceptional touch with the child actors), yet many of the movie's touches are simultaneously gaseous (amongst the bits of whispered narration is the war between nature and grace, roles assigned to mother and father) and all-too-literal (a dinosaur retreats from nearly killing a fellow creature--the first moments of species kindness, or anthropomorphic poppycock?). The Tree of Life premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Palme d'Or there after receiving boos at its press screening. The debate continues, unabated, from that point. --Robert Horton
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Top Customer Reviews
The quotation from the Book of Job which opens the film is the first clue to what it's all about. As in the Book of Job, some of the most compelling "dialogue" consists of unanswered questions addressed to the mysterious creative spirit behind the universe. Or perhaps we should say that the Creator's answer is the universe itself. We don't see God in the film, but we do see the Creation, rendered with spectacular visual effects to tell a story informed by the cosmological insights of contemporary physics, followed up with the evolution of life on earth, compressed into a few minutes. It's left to the viewer to discern the connections between this cosmic narrative and the story of an ordinary family living in Texas in the 1950s, which is the other subject of the film. It's the members of this family whose disembodied voices whisper the agonizing questions to the unseen Creator in the first part of the film.Read more ›
Like Jack, I was too involved in my own adolescent struggles to pay much attention to what my younger brothers were going through. And, like Jack, to this day I regret my failures as an older brother.
A moment that resonated strongly for me was when the father apologizes to Jack for being too harsh. His response is, it's your house, you can do what you want. The youthful Jack isn't yet capable of forgiveness, but he's taking the first steps on a long journey - separateness, tolerance, and eventually acceptance - that Sean Penn continues in the final scenes.
Some wag - I forget who - wrote that Malick doesn't seem to care much for people, but he obviously never met a tree he didn't like. The visuals that stay with me aren't the cosmic pyrotechnics, but Waco's trees - an enormous diffusing canopy, enclosing the timeless, mythical world of childhood.
I honestly didn't enjoy watching this long film. But made me think more than most other films I watched in my life.
Most recent customer reviews
Bought this movie, sounded good with the four stars and all, starring Brad Pitt as well ! .... but turned it off, even after the half hour, movie was supposed to "pick up", never... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Lisa R.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie. It is a good film, but I was disappointed mostlyPublished 6 months ago by marg
Bought it for hubby. He thought it was a good movie. As for me I found it a bit boring. But it's a pretty intense movie and the story line was OK. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Ladyonwheels
Excellent cinematography, especially watched on a 100" screen. But the 7.1 ch surround sound is disappointingPublished 14 months ago by Thomas Mulja
I am a movie collector and I am pleased to add this movie to my collection, I am very selective in what I buy and enjoyed it.Published on May 29 2013 by Sharon Johnson
Ce film est totallement ridicule, il faut vraiment faire un effort pour ce tenir reveillé, aucune histoire logique, je ne recommande pas ce film a personnePublished on May 11 2012 by Roger Brideau
Images magnifiques pour mettre en contexte une histoire familiale un peu triste où le climat est peu favorable à l''épanouissement de l'épouse et des... Read morePublished on Dec 18 2011 by DENIS FALARDEAU, PTRE