Posted by: ckckred | February 11, 2012

The Tree of Life: A Film That Studies Its Background

Note: For the upcoming Oscars, I’m reviewing all the movies nominated for Best Picture.  After this, The Help and Midnight in Paris will have written reviews from me.

There are two forms of strangeness in movies.  One is Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the fascinating space opera that’s praised as one of the greatest films of all time.  The other is Robot Monster, a film about giant ape robots killing everyone on Earth and is one of the most critically hated films of all time.  I can see The Tree of Life being viewed as both, but I feel it’s more of a 2001.

A lot of people I know who have seen The Tree of Life didn’t like or understand it.  I can see their point.  I had to re-look at the story to understand the film and fully appreciate it.  The reason why the film is so confusing to many people is it is a film that perceives its background, not its characters.

The film is really about creation and conflict about the O’Brien family, led by the patriarch played by Brad Pitt.  They live in the 50s midwestern home.  The film starts off with the death of one of his sons, then goes with a 20 minute scene on the creation of the universe.

The story, however, doesn’t revolve around Mr. O’Brien but his son Jack (played by Hunter McCracken as a boy and Sean Penn as an adult), who is in conflict.  His father is a strict religious man who takes even the smallest sign of disrespect (such as being called “Dad” instead of “Father”) offensive.  Jack lashes out on the environment around him.  The film grows even darker than the other family drama this year The Descendants.

The Tree of Life is a film to appreciate for its visuals, even if you didn’t like the story.  The special effects are stunning, made by Tom Howard, famous for working on 2001: A Space Odyssey (a clear sign of inspiration on the film) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  The direction by Terrance Malick is different than any other movie I have seen this year (in a good way) and the cinematography is something to praise about.

The Tree of Life is a film I loved and adored.  Yes, it’s confusing and many parts seem strange, but the movie a visual masterpiece.  I’d like to see more films like this.



  1. I think people make the mistake of trying to find something special in the story and characters, like it needs to be developed more or something. The Tree of Life is simply a film that is about the meaning of life. Grace? Love? What? That’s how I saw it anyway.

    Good review!

    • I think most people are confused about the meaning of the characters to the story and what you said before. What is Jack looking for? I think you’re right that The Tree of Life is simply about life itself. Thanks for commenting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: