Care to elaborate?
This is for me a prime example of a director's pretentiousness. Kubrick's 2001 (with which someone made comparisons) still beats this to a pulp.
Sorry, I didn't mean to slash the movie with harsh words, it was just a quick comment. Well, for me this film is the ultimate mixed bag: it's surely a powerful, non-conventional movie. I liked a lot several parts, while others were annoying to the point of being intolerable. Malick is a too programmatic director for my tastes, he builds the movie around several philosophic pillars and then works around them with a narrative that sometimes takes too much time to be really appreciated (at the umpteenth shot of trees shaken by the wind I was almost leaving the theater). The creation sequence is an example of his extreme self-complacency. I can understand where Malick was coming from (linking the story of a family to the huge mystery of the universe as to depict the extremely frail nature of the human kind), but in the end it's just a show-off. Ok, he takes the stylistic road of the "visual poem", but sometimes I had more the feeling of a Discovery Channel documentary.
The comparisons with Kubrick's 2001 (esp. the stargate sequence) were inevitable, but the movies couldn't be more different. Malick is doing a Philosophy treatise through the language of the visual poem, while Kubrick tells the story of the ultimate Mythical Journey.
I agree with your comparison to 2001
, they're both very different films. However, I feel that The Tree Of Life
is the 2001
of the current generation in how it's so radically different and challenging, and not solely because it deals with creation.
But back to the main body of your reply, I still don't see how Malick's method of storytelling is complacent. You say the creation scene is an example, but how is it a show off? Malick's films delve deep into human consciousness and philosophy, no question, but he also lets his films breathe like no one else. Leone and Kubrick did it, albeit in a much different fashion that defined their styles.
I'm with you, Maurizio. I appreciate great beauty and poetry in film, but I found the creation aspects to be too abstract, heavy-handed, and loosely tied to what was going on with the O'Briens to really be moved by it. Granted, I've only seen the film once, almost a year ago, but my impression was that somewhere in there was a simple, sweet 90-minute impressionistic film about a Texas family that would have been a more powerful experience for me. I found the sequence showing the birth and growth of the children to be incredibly beautiful and far more mesmerizing, for example. I just don't think Malick is very profound or interesting as a metaphysician, and since The Thin Red Line, I've found that he lets that stuff get in the way of the human component, rather than enhance it.
There's your problem. The creation and universe scenes are anything but loosely tied. They are a part of the fabric of Malick's story, which is far from simple. This film cannot be properly judged on a single viewing. Look at how many people that hated 2001
only to change their minds after seeing it again. When I saw this film in the theater, I was enthralled but confused. I didn't understand everything that I was seeing, because we as an audience naturally try to grasp on to a cohesive narrative, which The Tree Of Life
does not have. At first I didn't understand the ending or how the creation scenes directly related to the family scenes. When you watch it again, or rather if, give in to Malick's demands. He's a very demanding director that is most certainly not for everyone. Turn it up loud as the Blu will instruct you to (I honestly have no problem comprehending Malick's dialogue or his actors' performances), and give in. There is a wealth of visual parallel structure between the universe and this Texas family; and a reason why there's dialogue during the creation, but it seems like a lot of you didn't even hear it.