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3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 16, 2011
This is, literally, a stunning film, especially on blu-ray. The natural first response at the end of it, if you've given it your undivided attention for its full 139 minutes, is to feel stunned into silence as if you've been hit with something huge and heavy. And the next response is to feel that you'll have to see it again to clarify just what you've been hit with. It's not that the film is conceptually complex or difficult; it's just that Malick, as in his other films, takes on truly enormous themes and takes them seriously in a way that filmmakers hardly ever do in our jaded and ironic age. This will surely strike some viewers as TOO serious, ponderous, even pretentious. Nobody chooses a Malick film for light entertainment.

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. Then in the latter part, we see where these questions are coming from, especially for the family's eldest son - and in the end, we see the resolution to which all the conflicts and questions lead.

As in Malick's other films, this is all done with a minimum of dialogue between the characters, relying on the visuals (including the actors' expressions), and gloriously evocative music, to tell the story. And as before, Malick takes an idea that has been developing in his imagination for years or decades, and captures it with amazing spontaneity (and almost exclusively with natural light and steadicam). His process, like his product, is quite unique, and it's good to have the illuminating half-hour extra on the blu-ray, in which that process is described by the producers, cast and crew members. Other filmmakers, Christopher Nolan and David Fincher, also testify to the unique quality of Malick's films and the influence he's had on them. (The DVD in this combo pack does not include this "making-of" featurette. I should also mention one oddity of the blu-ray: it offers a soundtrack dubbed in French, but only English subtitles with the English soundtrack.)

In short, i can see why this film won the Palme d'Or at Cannes. But i expect i'll be watching it again soon and further exploring the vast world Terrence Malick has rendered in film.
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on January 11, 2013
A visually powerful and emotionally unsettling film. Viewers need patience (or a doobie) for the first half hour or so, but this movie is worth the effort. And, like any great work of art, we will all take away something different.

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.
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on September 5, 2013
Film's definitely not for everyone. Actually the film should be tedious and boring for most viewers as they will likely not find themselves relevant to the message it's trying to deliver. But if you are a thinker that'd like to get a perspective on life in little unique way, this might entertain you.

I honestly didn't enjoy watching this long film. But made me think more than most other films I watched in my life.
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The story in this movie is one that is all too familiar to baby boomers like myself. On one side of our upbringing there was a parent who was loving, enabling and affirming, only to be countered by a domineering type on the other side who tried to control and micromanage every last living moment to the point of robbing us of our joy. This parental polarity often led to a sense of growing confusion, frustration, and anger on the part of the children who had to negotiate the veritable minefield that often lay between the two parents. The young man in this movie (played by Sean Penn) who grew up in this kind of familial environment, has now reached adulthood and is looking back on those years when he and his brother were continually subjected to physical and verbal abuse from a tyrannical father. The movie moves in and out of the present as it tries to piece together this man's view of how this dysfunctional family ever came together and why it eventually broke apart. His reflections, through all this reliving of the past, force him to recognize how precarious his father's life really was in providing for them, and that he may have really only wanted something better for his children that he had never experienced himself: a sense of being independently successful. Identifying this failing in this dad made him realize how important his mother's selfless love for him and his brother was in overcoming the bad memories and encouraging him to live for the future. I was left with a very strong impression that love or devotion to serving the interests of others is the DNA of life that allows us to move on to the next generation in an evolutionary process where the bad gets chucked in favour of the good. While the visuals might be overdone in places, they do serve to make the point that life is bigger than just one generation of grief.
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on November 4, 2011
The whole of this film is almost a tone poem meditation on loss of childhood. I was very glad to view it in parts at home with my own son, pausing the film at times to discuss what we were watching. The film is slow, but beautifully shot and with excellent actors. The children are particulary well portrayed. I was very glad that we had bought the blue ray version.
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on November 15, 2011
I'm a huge fan of special features done RIGHT and this was the occasion to mark some points in many areas, which were not even mentionned. It frustrates me to quite a level when only 30 minutes of behind the scenes are available where there could be so much more to the table.

People, if you're waiting to grind your teeth on such a movie and want to have a good time, there is no better time than now because it is quite the spectacle. Should the Academy refuse to acknowledge it at the 2012 ceremony, needless to say I'm quitting on them, but that's beside the point.

I'm not asking for Mr. Mallick to come out of his beloved intimacy. Much like Kubrick, here is a director who enjoys making movies and not being pursued by legions of fans to tell them what he meant by this or that scene.

Ah well, since most Mallick films are on Criterion (save for this one and The New World), there's always the chance that either Fox wakes from their respective coma and give it the due treatment or Criterion will see to it in... give or take 5 or 6 years.

Shame, Fox.
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on May 11, 2015
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. Came on time and is of good condition. All in all it was a worth the money.
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on December 18, 2011
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 enfants. Beaucoup de symbolique pour en illustrer les conséquences.
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on October 11, 2015
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 happened, with very random parts to the movie, in space then dinasoars, under the sea...made totally no sense, would give it no stars if I could, would better make a nature video but I've seen a lot better nature videos that made sense, my husband said movie had Brad"Pitts" in it, a real turkey for us!
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on May 29, 2013
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.
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