The Tree of Life (2011)

This post is scheduled. I’m currently on holiday and will be answering Your comments when I get back. Be sure to leave some, so returning to rain and wind would be more enjoyable.

Missing some of the most talked about movies last year wasn’t my intention, it just happened and I never got around to watch them because.. well, I didn’t feel like it. Then all of a sudden I got my motivation back and I have since watched many movies, so many in fact, that my reviews are piling up and I literally have to speed-write some of them otherwise I never will. So, The Tree of Life review is on its way and it’s not going to be a long discussion like some would might expect from this movie. Some went mad lengths to describe it.. so, I’m gonna be short and a bit unhappy about it.

When I started watching The Tree of Life, honestly, I had no idea what I was going to see because I had kept away from its plot and the trailer didn’t say much. Well, I should’ve gone with the context of the trailer then because the movie didn’t say much verbally, it was mostly a music video about evolution and it just kept going and going and taking us somewhere. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with the story, some times I felt like I was just watching it because I had already spent an hour and a half on it, and it would have been a waste not to finish it. That’s how I felt in the end, I’ve come so far, so why not wait for the credits. Though, I get the hype, it does have this certain charismatic side to it but it’s not everybody’s cup of tea for sure. It’s either a love relationship of pure emotional excitement or hate relationship with slight boredom. Yes, I have to admit, I was slightly bored… alright, I was very bored. I don’t know, I’m not a fan of experimental cinema (my apologizes to Terrence Malick), the whole soundtrack and image collage thing wasn’t for me on a movie level, though it all looked extremely captivating. I personally kept waiting for the human interaction and that was, for me, the best part of the movie because it made The Tree of Life into a movie. If we’d cut out all that mush and kept the acting (which I loved in every level, and though Penn seemed to be just wondering around aimlessly, he still seemed good at it), then bravo, I would say it was awesome. Especially the performance of the oldest son, I was just amazed, I wanted to see him more and more but my expectations were not met.

So it makes sense that such a long movie brought into the blogging word such epic reviews but I’ll strip away all that symbolism and, with the lack of a better word, gimmick (again, sorry Malick, I just wasn’t feeling you) that The Tree of Life was all about, and stick with its core point, and say that life is hard. That’s about it. Sure, there is a beautiful scenery along with visual porn used to show this point but it all comes down to the simple truth of life being a complex journey. There are strict fathers and gentle mothers.. But we still grow up and although we don’t see our past selves and our young parents walking together with us on the sea side, we still probably think about our child hood. May it be thoughts of deserts or just the idea of living in the middle of the buildings instead of the childhood house. Life is difficult but it keeps on going, of course sometimes when life stumbles on a movie that goes really slowly and you start to wonder if some movies just aren’t meant for you, life seems to be still but I swear, it still keeps going.

That’s about everything I have to say about the movie, didn’t say it as shortly as I expected though. Still, I totally get if somebody is going to say bad things about my “stupid” views but let me tell you this. I studied symbolism, signs and the usage of different mediums to transport meanings to the viewers. Yes, I’m educated on this and though The Tree of Life would be the perfect foundation for a semiotic analysis through its visual elements, musical elements and even the use of silence as an element of emotional meaning, there’s a limit to my patience. End of the day, I don’t want to watch signs in front of me and wonder endlessly about something for two and a half hours. I got tired, I’m not shamed to say that and you can argue to me the importance of The Tree of Life in a cinematic world and so on, but I would still fall asleep in the end. So without making this post into something that will make you fall asleep, I’m gonna finish off with with some notes I had written down. Most of it describes the beauty of the scenery and discusses the fact that if the movie actually answers the questions it raises or causes too many to even count. Underlined part is about conflict of love, hate and admiration which is also a good way to describe the plot part I loved – I should make a Mettel’s cut version of only the human interaction scenes, The Branches of Life I would call it. Also wrote down a question I wanted to ask you guys, which I expect you to answer… if you want. What do you think, would The Tree of Life have had a better impact if I had seen it in a cinema?

So, let me be specific about this, I had 2,5 for this but I decided to give the kid 0,5 for his role! I want more of him!

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9 thoughts on “The Tree of Life (2011)”

  1. There were some great performances in Tree Of Life – Chastain, Pitt and Penn all delivered – but I agree with you that this movie is not for everyone. Like you I had no idea what it would be like before I went to see it and it did surprise me. A few people walked out of the screening I was in and didn’t return but I stuck with it until the end. I think knowing what to expect helps a lot with the enjoyment of this film – so much of it consists of moving images set to music and these are impressive, but it makes for hard work if you’re expecting a straightforward drama.

  2. You are much kinder to this one than I was – I NEVER buy coffee in cinema because it’s such a rip off but i had to get out and get one otheriwse I’d slip into a coma. The film looked beautiful and Chastain and Pitt were good but my God, it was like bunch of pretty footage just mashed up together – you can’t succesfully captivate life like that, life is emotions and there was too little of that in this movie.

    1. Like I said in one of the replies.. I don’t think we should view it as a movie.. it is definitely something else.. I was disappointed but I did want to still give it a chance to be something amazing.

  3. Good review Ray. This movie really took me by storm and every single piece of footage, was just another piece of magic and beauty that I couldn’t deny I loved. The story-structure may not be perfect, but the look and feel of this is.

  4. It certainly divides people, and I’m actually surprised that you have a “moderate” opinion – usually people either hate it, or love it! Anyway, I’m in the second group — The Tree of Life really spoke to me, but only the second time around. The first time I watched it I went in just like you, no context no nothing, and was blown away by the beauty of it, but not quite satisfied “intellectually”.

    I did see it in the cinemas and think it makes all the difference, at least in terms of visuals (and that soundtrack!). It obviously has a much bigger impact to watch the making of the universe in a huge screen, with that epic Lacrimosa really loud. But it wasn’t until I researched some stuff and watched it again that I fully enjoyed it – that I really felt all the emotional turmoil and overall wonder. To me it’s like a modern art piece in the sense that it either gets better or worse the more you look at it, or think about it – it affects everyone differently.

    1. I have a feeling it does have a different effect but now I want to think of it as not a movie but some new medium or something. It certainly hasn’t got all the elements I would need in a movie for me personally.

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