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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: May 21: The Tree of Life


May 21: The Tree of Life

"A family with three boys in the 1950s. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence."

So, after months of putting it off, I have finally seen The Tree of Life. I have had it sitting in my room forever, never really finding the time to sit down and watch it, knowing it's a rather heavy experience with a lot of "what the hell is going on?" moments. I decided to just give it a go, popped it in the Blu-ray player (yeah, fancy), and sat back for two and a half hours as I watched one of the most beautiful, yet confusing, films I have ever seen. Directed by the ever elusive Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life is both a film packed with symbolism (I think?) and meticulous crafting. 

And there are dinosaurs! I know! I have no idea why either!

The Tree of Life is a story of how the world began, starting at The Big Bang, taking a quick stop in the 1950s to focus on a family, then jumping to modern day, followed by the end of the world. So much happens and every single scene is shot as though it is its own work of art. As we travel through time, we witness nature at its beginnings and the eventual evolution of life. There really is no story to these scenes and the bulk of the plot is what happens when we see the O'Brien family (patriarch- Brad Pitt), struggling with their own problems. Every member of the family is cast perfectly and the acting is amazing, especially by Pitt and his sons. Jack (Hunter McCracken who also wins best name ever) is the eldest son and the primary focus of the story. His struggles with his over-authoritative father (Pitt) are the main conflict, and we see Jack becoming a man of his own. His encounters with friends, his brothers, his faith, and his family all leave much to question, as the tribulations seem so minuscule to the fact we're also on a journey through time. I think that's the point however, and that love conquers all?

Holy Hell does that not look like the spitting image of Pitt hanging off his shoulders?

The Tree of Life is an experience. Similar to Enter the Void (review) and 2001: A Space Odyssey, the primary focus is on the visuals with very little dialogue. Every shot is gorgeous and the cinematography is mind-blowing. Malick has a reverence to his story and for film itself, and his approach to film-making is incredible. Malick's visuals and special effects are accompanied by an equally amazing soundtrack and, if time traveling is this beautiful, I would love my own Tardis and/or DeLorean. The Tree of Life is a must see, but must be watched with an open mind and a lot of patience. 

The Good:
a unique movie experience that has much more meaning and symbolism to be understood in one viewing and leaves a lot to be discussed
The Better:
incredible acting by the entire cast, with noteworthy performances by the three brothers, Brad Pitt, and Jessica Chastain
The Best:
mesmerizing special effects and visuals that are heightened by an equally tremendous score 

Overall: 8.6/10

One of the best trailers I have ever seen:

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