So, i’m fully intending on writing a completely wanked up post on Tree of Life – but right now im too tired, deflated and disastrously deleriously overworked that I couldn’t even muster up the resolve to sit and wait for the coffee I so desperately needed for the hour trip home. Thanks to Ian Ngo who nursed me so lovingly and made me concede defeat – I’m forever grateful. Also, thanks for asking me if I “really needed” that 7/11 $1 coffee…I didn’t, you were right.
Okay, so after some sleep, a big bowl of muesli and a strong coffee, I feel ready to reflect on the Tree of Life. I loved it. It was honestly one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen – every shot was like a photograph, such attention to aesthetic detail – the true definition of cinematography I guess.
A.O Scott of The New York Times said:
“The sheer beauty of this film is almost overwhelming, but as with other works of religiously minded art, its aesthetic glories are tethered to a humble and exalted purpose, which is to shine the light of the sacred on secular reality”
However, the film has been met with as much criticism as praise, and for many is a overly self indulgent work that attempts to alienate it’s audience via its existential reflections shown in the interspersed imagery of the origins of the universe and the inception of life on Earth.
Stephanie Zacharek of Movieline :
“a gargantuan work of pretension and cleverly concealed self-absorption.”
I think what I loved about the film, was that despite it’s lack of narrative, the quite long sequences of volcanos erupting, dinosaurs gracing the earth and atoms joining -I kind of ‘found’ a narrative on my own, like in Hypertext, I joined up little granules of information which I feel actually formed a series of links which helped me to realise meaning. The shots of planets exploding was like the kind of impact of the loss of child – something which inevitably tears your life apart, and destroys any semblance of stability or tangible certainty.
I think this film can be described by the ‘chew-level’ in the cinema. Let me explain my weird way of judging the affect of a film on it’s audience. In X-Men, jumbo bags of chips are rustled throughout the film, its expected and nobody kicks up a stink about the loud crunching of chips, the sounds of straws sucking up litres of coke, the cracking of frozen chocolate as teeth penetrate its surface to get to the soft centre. Nobody really expects full silence as the effects of the movie drown out the shifting in seats, the people shuffling about and the teenagers making sweet passionate love up the back. In ‘Tree of Life’ – chewing is haphazard, you have to time the moment you place that crunchy item in your mouth to the loud parts in the film – and if that roaring of the ocean is sharply cut to a scene of silence, you have to stop mid chew and let the item slowly disintegrate in your mouth – rice crackers were a bad choice!
So you can really get the sense of a movie by the behaviour of it’s audience – the shy and tempered opening of the chips, the serious shame of entering late and the judgemental glares directed at ‘walker outerers’.
Visit this site, its quite incredible and has a lot of stunning still from the film.
Also, check out the philosophical/religious entry for ‘Tree of Life’ on Wikipedia – it actually makes for some quite interesting reading which in a totally wanky “i study philosophy” sense actually rings very true to the kinds of ideas we are exploring at the moment in classes – loosely.