August 5th, 2011


Terrence Malick's Tree of Life

So I just saw this film! It was the first time I had ever seen a digitally projected film in a theatre, and the clarity and the difference in color and picture quality were so astounding -- granted this was on a brand-new and pristine screen as well -- that I literally did not blink for the first thirty minutes of this film.

I thought it was amazing, the claustrophobic and deliberately invasive camera; the transitions that went from simple to esoteric and back again; the jump shots; the interspersing of the narrative about the nuclear family with the macro-story of the cosmos and everything in it; the brilliant sequencing of the men with their different shuffling walks, all impaired; the gorgeous, gorgeous Kubricked sequences of the universe and its patterns and evolution. I was mesmerized the whole time. I was ready for it to end when it ended, because the narrative of the family ended on an anticlimactic note to me, but I thought the whole film was just stunning and powerful and extraordinary.

I also want to say that I thought Sean Penn's character, who was so minor, was something of a homage to Peter Falk in Wings of Desire--the way he wanders around his office like a stranger in a strange land, balancing all those voice-overs with his weary, lost face. Yeah, I definitely got a Wim Winders vibe from that, though I think that might be just in my head.

So anyway, I was like, YAY FILM, and then I came back and the internet informed me that apparently, large crowd walk-outs have been common at all screenings of this film. Also that it was booed at Cannes. ALSO that apparently it's a "Christian" film with "Creationist" elements.

Which. Sorry. What? Why are people walking out of this film? WOULD THEY WALK OUT OF A SHOWING OF 2001? I THINK NOT. Booed at Cannes? What! And how is a 15-minute sequence showing the evolution of the earth and the cosmos a Creation myth?

Did I even see the same film???? What the heck.