The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

The prologue ends with a question, "Lord, why?" To answer this question, we must (following the way God answers Job) start with the beginning of creation and work our way forward. What should be theodicy fails to be so, though, because God (like all persons in Malick's filmography) is ultimately inscrutable. Thus, while we need to forgive the sins of our father and accept the way of grace, at most this leads to an acceptance in this life (we follow the elevator back down to earth), with only a hope for reconciliation in a life beyond.

Attempts to de-theologize the film will make some progress, especially a Freudian attempt to play up how Jack conflates his Father and God and how his (sometimes sexualized) love for his mother creates (a potentially deadly) competition with his father. An Adlerian could make good use of the role of acceptance and the importance of one's familial upbringing. But ultimately, one must need a religious accounting (of at least the Emersonian sort) of the creation sequence and the reliance on the glory of nature to accept this life.

This is one of the only films I can think of where each scene contains the seed of a perfect movie on its own (with the possible exception of the beach scene). Every cross-section of the film (the frame, the sequence, the scene, the movement, the film) is nearly flawless.

There is no pretension or vanity here, only beauty and -- let us not fail to note the rarity of this -- wisdom throughout.

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