As the 2012 Oscars approach, now is the time to brush up on some of the bigger pictures for the award season. Director Terrence Malick is no stranger to the Oscars, being nominated for “The Thin Red Line” back in ’99. If you aren’t familiar with his line of work — let me give you the breakdown. Malick directs a movie every so often, large periods of time pass with nothing. For instance, the time between “Days Of Heaven” and “The Thin Red Line” was 20 years. So when he releases a movie, people take notice.
The Tree Of Life is an arthouse film, no doubt about it. He definitely has a certain style much in the vein Kubrick, Lynch or Fellini. Focusing more of symbolism and visuals, plot falls to the wayside as his films tend to make you think and analyze the situations. Unfortunately his style generally alienates audiences and at the end of the day — making his films unapproachable by the everyday movie goer just looking for 2 hours of entertainment.
But if you can get yourself through “The Tree Of Life” you mind be surprised. “Tree” is an ambitious undertaking, it stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain. The impressionistic story of a Texas family in the 1950s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack (Penn), through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). Jack finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith.
There is so much than that but most of the effect is given through the symbolism of the scenes, it is left to the viewer to interpret what Malick is trying to say much like Kurbick’s “2001”. There is even a sequence lasting about 10 minutes of how life began on Earth, showing that the world was created through fission and bacteria rather than through the concept of creation — but the film also touches down of religion and beliefs. We even get a scene of dinosaurs roaming the Earth.
My interpretation of TTOL is as follows, life is fragile. You need to hang onto your innocence as long as you can. Although the idea of religion and beliefs are greatly incorporated. For example, we see the kids tie a from to a bottle rocket and kill it. After a sudden tragedy the cast reflects on God’s decision to take a life, hinting at how religion is based in our minds and a deity is only something larger than us that we do not fully understand. Like humans killing the frog. It’s hard to say exactly what they were aiming for as most of the film is slow and the cast has even stated that they do not understand the movie.
See it for yourself and decide what it exactly is about, force yourself through it — it is worth it. Believe it or not, “Tree” is Malick’s best and most approachable film. It’s hard to say if “The Tree Of Life” will take any Oscars home, but I think they definitely deserve it. Tune into ABC on February 27th and find out, check back here on the 28th to get a recap of the show and see who gets snubbed.