Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Tree of Life

In keeping with the film, a collection of loosely connected thoughts follows.

[I don't think The Tree of Life has anything that could be called a spoiler, really, but if you want to go into the movie blind, don't read on.]

Forget about narrative storytelling. Or story, maybe.

There's a broad sense of the story of life, the universe, and everything, but in Jack's life the chronology is torn and fragmented. You could repair some of it, but that isn't the point.

A collection of scenes? Vignettes? Moving pictures? I think Terrence Malick's trying for a different art form, and he really is pushing in some new, weird directions. Perhaps they'll be watching it in a hundred years.

No Transformers previews here (PTL, right?). One trailer featured Beach House. Another Frightened Rabbit. Still another Radiohead. "ARTSY FILM TO FOLLOW," in other words. But I will probably see that George Clooney angsty-dad film.

Quietest movie theater I've been in. When I scratched my head, it sounded like I was raking gravel.

The characters barely have names. Jack. Mother. Father. Brother.

Gut-wrenching grief that quickly is hard to process, since I'm still thinking about the drive over and whether my cell phone is in fact off and whether this seat is comfortable and I hope I don't have to go the bathroom cuz I had some coffee and water on the way over and this thing's gonna be long.

That shot, fairly early on, where the upside down camera filmed the shadows of the children playing right side up.
The sunflowers very near the beginning, and very near the end.
And now I keep looking around trying to, you know, see things differently.

I thought the swimming-out-of-one's-submerged-childhood-room = birth thing was... what? Too much? Also not taken in by the Beach Afterlife. I do admire Malick's effort to give a clean finish, but it seemed to try to give resolve and finality to a film that wouldn't resolve.

Father's line about subjectivity–about perspective–seems to me central to this puzzle, as does Jack's demand of God, "I want to see what you see." I can't begin to puzzle through grace and nature right now.

Sometimes it's hard to tell if Jack is talking to one of his parents, his brother, or God. Does he know?

There's a line from the trailer where Father says, "Someday we'll fall down and weep, and we'll understand it all. All things." I was waiting for that line, but I don't remember hearing it.

I found almost every childhood snapshot utterly convincing.

Powerful Job homily.

Parenthood. Scary stuff. Godspeed, my parenting and about-to-parent friends.

PS: Just spent twenty minutes or so talking through a ton of the scenes and shots and pictures of this film with Chase, and I'm getting even more enthusiastic.