thoughts on the Tree of Life

I’m here and there today, working on the marvelous pile of “Christmas gift could-be’s” I found in my parents’ storage room. Turns out, after living in Honduras for three years and Austin for one and four years of college in Michigan before that, I let quite a few things pile up there. Old corkboards, frames, half-finished canvas paintings, sketches, journals (that’s a two hour sidetrack right there!), and other knick knacks. Nothing like some good handsaw therapy – throw in a screwdriver and a pair of pliers and you’ve got a world of “what could this be?” waiting for you!

I’m taking a break to return to a topic I promised to write about awhile ago.

The film Tree of Life by Terrence Malick stands out from the cinematic crowd for loads of reasons. The first is filmmaker Terrence Malick. All Movie Guide at the New York Times says, “Terrence Malick is one of the great enigmas of contemporary filmmaking, a shadowy figure whose towering reputation rests largely on a very small body of work,” which is why you’ve probably never heard of him. My intrigue started because I follow Brett McCracken at his blog The Search. I am always impressed with McCracken’s assessment of culture and film, so I thought I would trust his strong support of Malick’s work.

Fast forward to last week when I watched Tree of Life with my good friends in their living room, cradling a hot cup of spice tea. Sometimes (all the time), I get nervous watching films I’ve suggested. I have a complex because in high school I was notorious for picking out lame movies. So, I was almost sweating I was so nervous and hopeful my friends would like/and understand the film. We had heard it was very slow and very deep, so the living room was the perfect set-up. I had my journal handy to write down common symbols, metaphor, and anything that came to mind.

Now, I’m looking at those journal pages going, “Whoa. Linear thinking isn’t anywhere in my vocabulary, that’s for sure!”

I know I’ll be processing this film and it’s meaning for a while (which is something I love about what Malick did). Today, I just want to tackle the (maybe) obvious overarching theme in the film of nature vs. grace. Malick pulled us in and then stretched us apart with his shots of nature’s beauty and man’s limitations. At the very beginning of the film, the narration sets up the message of the entire film.

It’s hard to get past this stunning contrast.

Before I start giving my scattered opinion, what do you think?

Watch this. (I’m sorry I canNOT find the nature vs. grace narrative anywhere on youtube)

and then this featurette where people talk through the story of the Tree of Life. (spoiler alert here!)

Here’s a write up over at White Horse Inn, if you need to hear someone’s opinion. I kind of promise I’ll chime in soon! I know, I know… I less than tackled this, but it’s SOOOO big!

Happy Friday!

One thought on “thoughts on the Tree of Life

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