The Tree of Life (first viewing)

The Tree of Life is a Marmite movie you will either love it or hate it and when I call it a movie I use that term loosely, it is more like a visual poem. Anyone who has seen any of Malick’s previous work will know some of what to expect and if you haven’t then I suggest you do, as it will really prepare you for what you will ‘experience’. Don’t think you are going to see a Hollywood film starring Brad Pitt & Sean Penn or you will end up walking out like half the audience did when I saw it. What you will get is a meditation on life, loss, love, the universe and what makes us who we are, what defines us and where our place is in the overall puzzle. The journey this film takes, and it is a journey from the spark of creation to a celestial imagining, is breathtaking, inspiring, emotional, visually stunning and some of the most affecting cinema I’ve ever seen (I walked home from the cinema but don’t remember it or any of the songs I had on my Ipod for the duration). But like all Malick’s work it needs to be viewed more than once, there is just too much to take in, so epic is the vision. Also it could be interpreted in so many ways and leaves so much unanswered that you will be scratching your head as to what he is getting at, like 2001 (it’s easy to see the comparisons) this film will be studied and dissected for years to come. People have always sought out answers to the hows and whys of the world whether it is through philosophy, science, art or religion; everyone needs something to believe in. Here Malick lays on the Christianity a little too much for my tastes but rather than be about that particular religion it is just the one the O’Brien’s believe in, had it been set anywhere else it could quite easily have included a different faith, think, although on a much smaller scale, Uncle Boonmee or Le Quattro Volte. But here it’s the sheer spectacle coupled with the immense themes that demands you see this on a big screen and in silence (someone munching near me was distracting my focus until they became one of the first inevitable evacuees). I could go on for ages about the dinosaurs, the beach, the bridge, the abstract lights and many other aspects (remember I want to see this again as soon as possible) but they would only be my interpretations as they stand now. I would be bringing into it my atheism, current state of mind, life for me outside of the two hours spent in the films company and all these would be different to your own. I came out elated and yet feeling so small and insignificant that when I finally arrived home I had a good cry, I love that cinema can still do that to me and I can’t encourage you enough to let it do it to you also. I think I saw a genius, masterful piece of modern cinema that will inspire for years to come but only time (and of course repeat viewings) will tell for sure.   

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