The Movie: 9/10
Life is a big deal. The universe, solar systems, planets, Earth, countless living creatures, billions of years for it to all just go on and on and on, and to what end? I won’t see the end, probably, however I do see this little sliver of the middle part. My life, my family, my friends, my dramas and traumas, it all feels so big sometimes. I am the center of the universe, but I’m not.
When I was a kid my mom said I thought about things too much. As I hit puberty and teenhood, my mom said I thought about things too much. This continued through my 20’s with some interuption due to heavy drinking and not giving a shit about anything. My 30’s settled down and now in my 40’s guess what, I think about life and living and the universe, and the meaning of it all an awful lot. After seeing Tree of Life, it’s obvious that I’m not alone. It’s all so big. Where do we fit in? Why do we bother?
The flip side of that deep troubling question is the answer, life is fantastic!! Life exists, moving around, blooming, babbling, growing, dying, sprouting, towering, crawling, it’s beyond our comprehension if we are honest with ourselves. See what this movie does to me, I’m thinking again, more, contemplating, wondering, and it’s lovely. Why bother? It’s cool to be here.
The cast is perfect. The art design is hypnotizing. The special effects are wondrous. Mixing the visual power of how the universe is thought to have begun cut together with a single family drama, then with the timeline of flash backs and flash forwards, well, it sounds muddied with complications, but it’s not. I just let it all happen and soaked it up. It’s a long movie, not long enough if you ask me.
The depth of the characters seems super complex, and then you realize it’s just how we are. We have the bully nature of men, the loving nature of women, the innocence of childhood crushed by the reality of growing older on this planet. I have no idea how Malick captured it so beautifully, but with the music and the dialog and the beautiful photography, the delicate touch mixed with harsh and then balanced with what I see as a lot of neutrality. I mean, it’s heavy handed with the God stuff, if you see it that way. Then again, it’s pointing out the futility of believing in a god at all. There’s the balance and the opportunity for you to think about it yourself. Decide what it is. Enjoy it while it lasts and then it’s over. Hmmm more deep thinking about life. I really dig this movie.
- Exploring The Tree Of Life – It’s a good extra, but for the scope of this movie I would like to see more. The explanation about how they did the creation of the universe is good, it only touches on the process though, so again, more would be awesome.
- DVD & Digital Copy – I might just utilize this feature for once. I would like to watch and absorb this movie a few more times. Thanks technology!!
Cover Art and Menus: 4/10
I do not like the cover at all. It’s that atrocious boxes with snapshots from the movie. I like the individual images, but it’s just not appropriate for the magnitude of what’s inside the box. The menu is made up of a similar design with clips of the movie playing…ugh. Seriously? I don’t want the poster, which is disappointing because I really enjoyed the movie.
Audio & Video: 9/10 (By Ascully)
Beautifully shot on film by director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki (Children Of Men) Tree of life is a visual masterpiece in every respect. Shot mostly using 35mm steadicam the movie has a look unlike any other. As I said on the Podcast, you can literally pause the Blu-Ray on any frame in the movie and you have a composed piece of art. The transfer here is impeccable with fine detail in every frame. Wardrobe on the leading actors is especially detailed. The 20 minute long ‘how the earth began’ segment is wonderful with amazing looking experimental visuals and even some CGI.
It’s not often a movie has a message on the screen before it starts that tells you to turn up the volume. Malick is famous for using sound as an emotional cue and it’s obvious from the opening frames why you should crank it up. Featuring over 40 pieces of classical music (some new stuff composed by Alexandre Desplat of Harry Potter/The Kings Speech fame) this disc is a sonic marvel. The director uses a lot of subtle voiceover that comes across clear and centered, and the surround speakers are used almost the entire time to paint a rich soundscape that will evoke memories of childhood.
Tree of Life is easily the best movie I have seen this year for a number of reasons. It’s not often I am truly moved by a movie and at times here I really was. I am sure this movie will polarize audiences as it asks a lot from the viewer, but sit back and give yourself to it and you may have a life changing experience which is easily worth the price of admission.
It is worth the price.
Overall Score 9/10