Saturday, January 14, 2012

Film Autopsy of the ambitious "The Tree of Life"

by Salman Hameed

There were a number of ambitious films this past year. But I think no one can beat Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life in this category. It aims to place the day-to-day details of a boy's summer in Texas in the 1950s in the context of the whole history of the universe - from the beginning to the end! Yes, yes. The beginning of the universe 13.7 billion years ago, the formation of the solar system, the beginning of life, the evolution of life, the extinction of dinosaurs etc. No - the movie is not a documentary, but it provides this context in a 20 minutes of spectacular interlude which includes astronomical simulations of first stars and images from the Hubble space telescope. It will definitely remind you of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Oh - but the story is so much more. In a broader sense, it is also about the Book of Jobs, the way to make sense of the world in the wake of pain and loss. While the movie has a number of religious overtones, ultimately, this is a spiritual journey of the director Terrence Malick himself. This is a deeply personal film for Malick and a labor of love. If you don't believe me, just check out this New Yorker article about how he used an art installation called "Lumia" to show a shifting flame that represented some sort of cosmic beginning, and plays a constant theme in the film.

Here is out Film Autopsy (review) of The Tree of Life (you can find other film autopsies here):


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