Jan 3, 2012

8th Jan 2012; Terrence Malick's The Tree Of Life

The Tree of Life
A film by Terrence Malick
Country : USA
Year : 2011
Run time: 139 minutes
8th Jan 2012; 5.45pm
Perks Mini Theater

Recently showered with temporal glory at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d’Or, this movie, Mr. Malick’s fifth feature in 38 years, folds eons of cosmic and terrestrial history into less than two and a half hours. Its most provocative sequences envision the origin of the universe, the development of life on earth (including a few soulful dinosaurs) and then, more concisely and less literally, the end of time, when the dead of all the ages shall rise and walk around on a heavenly beach.
Embedded in the passages of cosmology, microbiology and spiritual allegory is a story whose familiarity is at least as important to the design of “The Tree of Life” as the speculative flights that surround it. The world of neatly trimmed lawns and decorous houses set back from shaded streets is one we instinctively feel we know, just as we immediately recognize the family whose collective life occupies the central 90 minutes or so of the film.
The particulars of these people — Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien and their three sons — and of the place they inhabit are drawn from Mr. Malick’s own biography, but they also have an almost archetypal cultural resonance. This is small-town America in the ’50s: Dad’s crew cut, Mom’s apron, the kids playing kick the can in the summer dusk.
To some extent this tableau — words can hardly do justice to the honeyed sunlight streaming through kitchen windows and refracted through the spray of garden hoses, or to the loose-limbed rhythms of children at play — offers an idealized glimpse of a lost Eden.
This movie stands stubbornly alone, and yet in part by virtue of its defiant peculiarity it shows a clear kinship with other eccentric, permanent works of the American imagination, in which sober consideration of life on this continent is yoked to transcendental, even prophetic ambition. More than any other active filmmaker Mr. Malick belongs in the visionary company of homegrown romantics like Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Hart Crane and James Agee.
-Excerpts from New York Times review.

Terrence Malick

The world was like a faraway planet, to which I could never return ... I thought what a fine place it was, full of things that people can look into and enjoy.
– Holly (Sissy Spacek) in Badlands – (malick’s second movie)

When making a film, Terrence Malick speaks to his collaborators in poetic images. To Martin Sheen in Badlands (1973), he said: ‘Think of the gun in your hand as a magic wand.’ To the post-production team (editors and sound mixers) on The Thin Red Line (1998), he advised: ‘It’s like moving down a river, and the picture should have the same kind of flow.’ And to Jörg Widmer, his Steadicam operator for The New World (2005), he whispered: ‘You have the quail at the wing when it’s about to fly.’

Malick grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and Texas, working on oil fields as a young man. He moved to Austin, Texas and graduated from St. Stephen's Episcopal School.

Malick studied philosophy under Stanley Cavell at Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1965. He went on to Magdalen College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. After a disagreement with his advisor, Gilbert Ryle, over his thesis on the concept of the world in Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein, Malick left Oxford without a doctorate degree.

In 1969, Northwestern University Press published Malick's translation of Heidegger's Vom Wesen des Grundes as The Essence of Reasons. Moving back to the United States, Malick taught philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology while freelancing as a journalist. He wrote articles for Newsweek, The New Yorker, and Life.

Malick got his start in film after earning an MFA from the AFI Conservatory in 1969, directing Lanton Mills. At the AFI he established contacts with people such as Jack Nicholson and agent Mike Medavoy, who acquired freelance script-doctoring work for him.

After working as a screenwriter and script doctor, Malick directed Badlands (1973) and Days of Heaven (1978). Following the release of Days of Heaven, Malick moved to France and disappeared from public view for 20 years. He returned to film in 1998 with The Thin Red Line. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, but did not win any of them.

His fourth feature was The New World, whose script he finished in the late 1970s. The film features a romantic interpretation of the story of John Smith and Pocahontas, filmed in his customary transcendental style.

You are going to see his fifth and latest masterpiece The Tree of Life (2011)

Malick is famously reclusive. His contracts stipulate that no one may photograph, and he routinely declines requests for interviews. Malick married Alexandra "Ecky" Wallace in 1998. They reside in Austin, Texas.

No comments: