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The Tree of Life

by Kim Packard
Created July 2011 Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life Mubi forum thread Another Mubi forum thread Gustav Klimt— Tree of Life oil painting (1905-1909) Expectation (young woman dancing) and Fulfillment (couple embracing) Gustav Klimt— Stoclet Frieze , Tree of Life mosaic (Some have said that this is the first example of European abstract art.) Common Sense Media Movie Review Families can talk about the film’s underlying violence. Why is the father so angry and frustrated? How does he express it, and why? What does the grown son actually learn during his quest? Does the movie have a happy, or hopeful, ending? Who do you think this movie is… Read more

Created July 2011

Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life Mubi forum thread
Another Mubi forum thread


Gustav Klimt— Tree of Life oil painting (1905-1909) Expectation (young woman dancing) and Fulfillment (couple embracing)


Gustav Klimt— Stoclet Frieze , Tree of Life mosaic (Some have said that this is the first example of European abstract art.)

Common Sense Media Movie Review Families can talk about the film’s underlying violence. Why is the father so angry and frustrated? How does he express it, and why? What does the grown son actually learn during his quest? Does the movie have a happy, or hopeful, ending? Who do you think this movie is intended to appeal to? What message is it trying to convey to its audience?

Philosophy Talk July 10th: Atheism and the Well-Lived Life (The discussion seems to turn around many of the themes in Malick’s film. It’s free to download right now for a few more days. Each new episode is available for one week only, beginning shortly after the completion of its broadcast run. After one week, it will move into the archive bin, where it is available for a modest price. )

Prayer Beneath the Tree of Life, by Roger Ebert “Terrence Malick’s new film is a form of prayer. It created within me a spiritual awareness, and made me more alert to the awe of existence. I believe it stands free from conventional theologies, although at its end it has images that will evoke them for some people. It functions to pull us back from the distractions of the moment, and focus us on mystery and gratitude.”

First Impressions of the Tree of Life, by Dan Callahan "The family material in The Tree of Life has always been the province of literature because in a novel you can show people as children and then as elderly, within one paragraph, if you want to. In film, you can’t really do that convincingly, and so Malick decides to keep the Mother forever young, which is appropriate to the story he’s telling. As the movie reaches for its conclusion, Malick brings us out of the suburban home and the skyscrapers of Houston and into the natural world, where a wave on the beach can be an explosion in space, and where a Father and a Mother might meet with their children and their neighbors and walk together, dazed, into the light. We’ll all be walking dazed into that light eventually, and what The Tree of Life is ultimately saying, I think, is that we need to look around as we stumble and try to help others along. "

Time Trip by Anthony Lane writing for The New Yorker " “If we cannot educate ourselves to his purposes, then clearly his work will look like nonsense.” That is Malick, writing of Heidegger, and introducing his own translation of Heidegger’s “The Essence of Reasons,” in 1969. He refers to the philosopher’s “peculiar language,” and “The Tree of Life” is no less odd, yet its purposes are clear: it is a grief-powered movie, triggered by the revelation, near the start, that Jack’s brother R.L. died at the age of nineteen. "

The Tree of Life Directed by Terrence Malick, by Patrick McCormick “In The Tree of Life, Malick has fashioned a cinematic triptych with a central narrative bracketed by two otherworldly pieces exploring our origins and ultimate destination. The opening act serves up a sumptuous visual and musical synthesis of Genesis and the Big Bang, marveling at the grace and wonder of our very existence; while the closing piece provides an ethereal meditation on life beyond the grave, pondering the meaning and purpose of our lives and the world around us. But it is the extraordinarily ordinary narrative at the center of Malick’s film that illuminates and grounds this masterpiece.”

The Tree of Life, Lutheran Theology “The “theme” of the film has to do with one of the first things we hear the mother character – “Mrs. O’Brien”- say: There are two ways through life: the way of nature, and the way of grace. You have to choose which one to follow. Grace doesn’t please itself. It accepts slights, insults, and injuries. Nature likes to have its own way, to lord it over.”

Wikipedia- Tree of life

Wikipedia- Terrence Malick

Tree of Life web project
“The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree… As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications.”
“The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree… As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications.”
Charles Darwin, 1859

The World is Too Much with Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

William Wordsworth (1802)

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