Tree of Life

Tree of Life (2011; directed by Terrence Malick): Malick’s film is the only one I know in which the origin of the universe, and of life is rendered in visual poetry. What he pulls off here is creating a feeling for the universe, its immensity, and our very place in it. And not only that, it manages to assign a role to the universe, for lack of a better word, in the plot of the movie. The film is neither science education, nor nature documentary, though nature figures in almost every frame. It is, in part, a story of an ordinary, though troubled family in Texas in the 1950s. The movie alternates between a point of view of their life that takes for granted their historical and cultural milieu, recognizably American but also far enough to be recognizably ‘period’, and the timeless perspective of the cosmos and nature. The subplot of the movie is the interplay between the two. [recommended by Katalin Balog, Rutgers University]

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