Thoughts on The Tree of Life?

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I tried watching this movie a couple years ago and couldn't get through it. I watched it again yesterday and found myself absolutely loving it, I just had to get through the first couple sequences. The opening and the ending to me are the weaker parts, but I loved everything in the middle. I would give it a
. It's certainly odd for sure, and it's arguable that it verges on pretentious sometimes. But I still came away in total awe of the images Malick portrays in The Tree of Life. And this is what I watch movies for anyways, for a different and new experience.

What do you guys think of this film? I know there's already been a "Rate that Movie" thread, but that was a while ago.
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You've prompted me to rewatch it. The story itself was quite tense from what I remember, it had some incredible photography and abstract cinematic juxtapositions too which gave it quite a cosmic perspective at the same time as following some rural family, father having issues, son getting bullied and other family conundrums.
I actually can't remember how it ended though lol. Terrence Malick is a good filmmaker from what I remember of his work, it's definitely not mainstream cinema but it's not quite full experimental cinema either, he's in that unique weird in-between bracket from my estimation.
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I liked it very much. I saw it in the movie theater and we thought it was wonderful film, and as you say @ahwell, , unique. I think this is one of those movies that is meant to be seen on the wide screen, in the hushed amphitheater of a movie house. There the visuals, beautiful and compelling , become even more central to the experience of the movie. I understand that some viewers felt it was pretentious or arty, but that was not my experience at all ( however ask me that question about Claire's Knee 🙄 sometime.)

And since the film is slow moving , more like a symphony than a song, the viewer should be prepared to relax and give it a little time and patience to evolve.

I have not seen it since, but here is what I remember taking away from the film. I have rarely ( never?) seen the type of cinematography that pays attention to the minute and overlooked visual beauties of the world. The visuals become a counterpoint to the story, which often is about the frail and flawed human character.

To me, those glorious visuals of small moments - the sun on the water, the acres of clouds in the sky- are a constant reminder that there is something greater and grander in the universe than our daily struggle. The camera looks lovingly at these visual gifts and implies- there is a reason to have faith.

The plot ( and I honestly don't remember all of it) then becomes a subtext to this theme of the beauty of the world. Which is why the film is so different from most movies- what is only nuance in most movies becomes the driving wheel in this one. The plot is not just underlined, but imho subservient to the quiet and constant pulse of the inspiring sights , and, by inference, the vitality of all our senses. Which can sustain us through the darkest twists of fate , even as we question its mystery.

This is my personal reaction of course and need not be anyone else's ( even the film maker 's ) . But I came away feeling validated and affirmed - that there is a reason and a greater hand that created this gloriously beautiful world.



I gave it a six, awfully self-indulgent in the opening stages but turns into a decent enough movie.
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I tried watching this movie a couple years ago and couldn't get through it. I watched it again yesterday and found myself absolutely loving it...
When I first got into films I tried watching it and I shut it off...BUT...I always thought that it was a film that was worth watching and I've been meaning to get back to it again. So it's interesting to hear you loved it on the second try. I think if I knew what style of film it was I might have been able to hang in there and finish it. As it was I only seen the first 10 minutes or so. Well one of these days I'll hopefully get to check it out again.



When I first got into films I tried watching it and I shut it off...BUT...I always thought that it was a film that was worth watching and I've been meaning to get back to it again. So it's interesting to hear you loved it on the second try. I think if I knew what style of film it was I might have been able to hang in there and finish it. As it was I only seen the first 10 minutes or so. Well one of these days I'll hopefully get to check it out again.
I'm considering nominating it for 20th HoF. It's definitely an odd film, not for everyone. There's something missing that makes it a total favorite, but it is a truly compelling experience.



I liked it very much. I saw it in the movie theater and we thought it was wonderful film, and as you say @ahwell, , unique. I think this is one of those movies that is meant to be seen on the wide screen, in the hushed amphitheater of a movie house. There the visuals, beautiful and compelling , become even more central to the experience of the movie. I understand that some viewers felt it was pretentious or arty, but that was not my experience at all ( however ask me that question about Claire's Knee 🙄 sometime.)

And since the film is slow moving , more like a symphony than a song, the viewer should be prepared to relax and give it a little time and patience to evolve.

I have not seen it since, but here is what I remember taking away from the film. I have rarely ( never?) seen the type of cinematography that pays attention to the minute and overlooked visual beauties of the world. The visuals become a counterpoint to the story, which often is about the frail and flawed human character.

To me, those glorious visuals of small moments - the sun on the water, the acres of clouds in the sky- are a constant reminder that there is something greater and grander in the universe than our daily struggle. The camera looks lovingly at these visual gifts and implies- there is a reason to have faith.

The plot ( and I honestly don't remember all of it) then becomes a subtext to this theme of the beauty of the world. Which is why the film is so different from most movies- what is only nuance in most movies becomes the driving wheel in this one. The plot is not just underlined, but imho subservient to the quiet and constant pulse of the inspiring sights , and, by inference, the vitality of all our senses. Which can sustain us through the darkest twists of fate , even as we question its mystery.

This is my personal reaction of course and need not be anyone else's ( even the film maker 's ) . But I came away feeling validated and affirmed - that there is a reason and a greater hand that created this gloriously beautiful world.
Wow, you've thought much more in depth about it than me, those are interesting thoughts.



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My response to most Malick films is "couldn't this have just been a series of paintings?"
My impression of Malick is that his films are too packed with movement to be readily adapted into a more static art form like a painting. Like Altman, he's one of those filmmakers where I can't picture him holding still.

As for my thoughts on The Tree of Life, I've seen it a couple of times and I'd say I like it quite a bit. Would need to re-watch it and every other Malick to see where they all stood in relation to one another, but right now it's my favourite of his.
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My impression of Malick is that his films are too packed with movement to be readily adapted into a more static art form like a painting. Like Altman, he's one of those filmmakers where I can't picture him holding still.

As for my thoughts on The Tree of Life, I've seen it a couple of times and I'd say I like it quite a bit. Would need to re-watch it and every other Malick to see where they all stood in relation to one another, but right now it's my favourite of his.
I wasn't being literal or anything. I just mean that he's clearly a lot more concerned with photography and feeling than writing or story, so it's hard not to feel that he's not really utilizing the medium to its full potential. Even if he needs movement to express what he wants to, I sometimes feel like he's really just looking for threadbare storylines to hang his moving pictures on, which feels worse than just going full art school project and not having the pretense of a story at all.

I'm being a little reductive, to be sure. Some of his films are better about this than others.



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I didn't hate the film at all the first time, but I'm used to what Malick can do, although this goes far overboard from anything else he had done up to then in an abstract way. Even so, I believe it's worth watching for people to make up their own minds with the caveat that if you don't like "plotless" or self-important movies then you should steer clear. However, all the reasons you may loathe it are the same ones for which it was lauded and why some love it so much. People go to movies for different reasons, now more than ever. Some very smart MoFos don't like conventional films and hate those in English even more, so maybe Malick was trying to make a non-English-language film by having so little dialogue. Even so, I did rewatch it a few times because I know I missed some things.

Also, I realize that some seem to have problems with 2001 but the only similarities I find with the films are that they cover an enormous length of history. Kubrick's film is told chronologically, has a plot and makes sense, at least to me. Malick's is more open to multiple explanations because it's more difficult to grasp its intentions than what some may seem to think. If some believe they also share boredom, that's their opinion, but that's exactly what it is. The Tree of Life is far better than anything he's done since, even though I'm looking forward to A Hidden Life.
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Can't resist posting this song. It is a staple in song circles for folkie -dokeys, and I believe I heard it long before the movie was made.

Nothing to do with the movie- but I like the melody and the counterpoint. It's about makers of quilts and the patterns they follow - beggars blocks and blind man's fancy , etc. are all names of the patterns. Maybe more in common with the movie than I first realized- in the final verse we discover how these unnamed and unseen hands fashion a patterned quilt of

The Tree of Life






I wasn't being literal or anything. I just mean that he's clearly a lot more concerned with photography and feeling than writing or story, so it's hard not to feel that he's not really utilizing the medium to its full potential. Even if he needs movement to express what he wants to, I sometimes feel like he's really just looking for threadbare storylines to hang his moving pictures on, which feels worse than just going full art school project and not having the pretense of a story at all.

I'm being a little reductive, to be sure. Some of his films are better about this than others.
That's an interesting comment because I'd say the reverse. I mean when you consider what cinema as a medium actually is then "moving photography" seems a much better description than "writing" to me. Not that literature cannot be concerned strongly with atmosphere but cinema that focuses mostly on plot is I think more arguably not exploiting the medium to its fullest. Telling a story via visual tone on the other hand is I'd say using the medium to its greatest extent.

As far as this film specifically goes I certainly enjoyed it although if I was being critical I felt that like a lot of Malick it did feel a bit "new agey" and overtly Christian. The obvious comparison in Tarkovsky often had some Christian elements to his films but even Andrei Rublev doesn't feel so bound up to the religion itself to me.



That's an interesting comment because I'd say the reverse. I mean when you consider what cinema as a medium actually is then "moving photography" seems a much better description than "writing" to me.
I'd probably agree, but the "full potential" thing I'm thinking of is about using both, even if the one Malick cares more about is the more overtly cinematic of the two.

Not that literature cannot be concerned strongly with atmosphere but cinema that focuses mostly on plot is I think more arguably not exploiting the medium to its fullest.
Also true!

Telling a story via visual tone on the other hand is I'd say using the medium to its greatest extent.
This, I think, maybe clarifies what you mean a bit better. I guess I can sort of understand it. I'll say this, then: I think if someone could tell a story of equal quality and power with just visual tone, that would be using the medium in a purer and more impressive form than someone who used every element...I just don't know how plausible it is. I think the story always suffers, but that some people and filmmakers are just more interested and impressed by a film that deliberately hamstrings itself this way and still manages to be effective.