The Tree of Life (Blu-ray)
As you may already know, THE TREE OF LIFE is not an easy film to explain. Like a great work of art that provokes thought and emotion, THE TREE OF LIFE is something to digest and ponder. Whether it be a painting or sculpture sometimes art may seem pretentious, thinking it’s something greater than it really is, however this is not the case. No matter what your feeling might be about THE TREE OF LIFE, it should be celebrated for the feeling it evokes. From the beautiful imagery and powerful score to the internal struggle of grace, love, anger and nature, this film is a magnificent spiritual journey that succeeds with multiple interpretations sure to spark numerous thought-provoking discussions.
I really enjoyed the film on my first viewing but it wasn’t until afterward when I fully appreciated it. As it stuck with me, my admiration grew. I even began watching it a second time while writing this review. On first glance, it can be admired for its technical beauty, from the gorgeous cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki to the inspiring music by Alexandre Desplat, but with time it can be hailed for the deeper symbolic and emotional storyline.
After the death of a brother, a man (Sean Penn) reflects on his time growing up as the oldest of three boys all raised by their loving parents – a mother (Jessica Chastain) who is full of grace and kindness and a father (Brad Pitt) full of discipline and frustration. To say this is a simplistic explanation would be an understatement. From the creation of the universe with single-celled organisms and dinosaurs all the way to the boy swimming out of a flooded bedroom as he is being born, the film uses figurative and literal images to show the moments leading up to this young boy’s existence.
Like Stanley Kubrick, director Terrence Malick is very deliberate in his direction with a captivating and mesmerizing vision. At times one might feel like nothing is happening but inexplicably it is near impossible to turn away soaking up every detail that is laid out before you. Being patient with his camera and the actors, Malick never forces the issue, which allows him to capture natural moments. He is able to find complication within otherwise simple moments and simplicity within the complicated ones.
An altered reality of existential growth, the film’s storyline is more of a surreal memory that isn’t fully placed rather than a constant accurate recollection. As a child things take on a different perspective and I found myself surprisingly relating to these moments. The boy desires to be good but continually chooses wrong. The fact that he is a boy rather than an adult makes him sympathetic in his innocence. While the film may not be scriptural, I found parallels in human nature and God’s grace with the boy representing one’s own internal battle between the old creation and new creation. I’m not claiming this is what the director was going for or pretending that I fully understand every aspect, but I can safely say I’m enjoying my own interpretation.
Video: (Widescreen 1.85:1) A bright yet muted color pallet perfectly captures the nature and surrealism. One of the most exquisitely beautiful films I’ve seen in a while.
Audio: (7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) Before the Blu-ray, a note by the filmmakers suggests to keep the volume loud. I love the detailed instruction, understanding that they put effort into every miniscule sound and it does not disappoint.
Exploring The Tree Of Life (29:56): I would have loved tons of material on this Blu-ray explaining Terrence Malick’s process but we only get this one. And this one is fascinating and insightful with interviews from producers, actors and some of the best directors around like Christopher Nolan and David Fincher admiring Malick’s work. I highly recommend this feature to anyone who has seen the film.