The Tree of Life

We watched this movie and it is beautiful. It is a bit different than “usual” so it has been received with cheers and boos. Couple of points to highlight below the video.

Winning the Palme d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, it is directed by Terrence Malick with Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain. It is about the origins and meaning of life. The movie follows a middle-aged man’s childhood memories of his family living, interchanged with imagery from the origins of the universe and inception of life on earth.

Imagery: Chemistry experiments’ randomness vs. Computer graphics’ predictability

Beautiful images without the use of CGI. Instead using materials such as “chemicals, paint, fluorescent dyes, smoke, liquids, CO2, flares, spin dishes, fluid dynamics, lighting and high speed photography to see how effective they might be,” (Douglas Trumbull, special effects supervisor). “We did things like pour milk through a funnel into a narrow trough and shoot it with a high-speed camera and folded lens, lighting it carefully and using a frame rate that would give the right kind of flow characteristics to look cosmic, galactic, huge and epic.” (Source: post by Vincent Sweeney on cinematography.com)

Nature vs. Grace

“The Tree of Life” distinguishes the way of nature (equated with the father) from the way of grace (the mother). Jessica Chastain interpreted her character as a personification of “the spiritual world,” a contrast to the natural world, “which is all about survival of the fittest,” she said, and which, in the movie takes the form of Darwinian natural selection and American bootstrap capitalism. (Source: wonderful article by Dennis Lim with more background info in New York Times)

Role expectations: Director vs. Salesperson

“He’s an extremely internal man,” says Pitt. “A Rhodes scholar, studied philosophy, has a love of science, a love of nature, a love of God; I have great difficulty just completing a sentence. I don’t feel right speaking for him but I have  to take a stab at it.” Pitt denies Malick is in any way aloof or enigmatic for the sake of appearances, though. “When he started making films in the 1970s, you just made films. Today there are two parts to the job: you get to make something, but it’s also become incumbent on us to suddenly sell our movies and that’s just not his nature. Terry’s more the painter, or even the guy that’s plastering the walls or laying the stone. He’s just a very humble, sweet man.” (Source: article by Steve Rose in The Guardian)

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