As I type this, I'm re-watching the humbling universe-meets-everything else sequence in Terrence Malick's bloated, ambiguous, glorious, dazzling and profound The Tree of Life.
I meant to watch the film in the cinemas, but life stopped me from getting there. I caught up with it last night. It is one of the most gorgeous and meaningful movies I have ever sat down with. Many have struggled with it. Some have hated it. Reading the audience reviews over at the Rotten Tomatoes website, reveals how polarising Malicks's opus is. So many people said they didn't get it and didn't have the patience to get it.
I thought the overall message was obvious, really (he said arrogantly): pay attention to life, salute the glory that encompasses you at every moment, always have everything in perspective, walk fearlessly and end every day with a considered act of forgiveness or mercy.
There's a poignant moment where a velociraptor-like dinosaur approaches another that is dying on riverstones. The healthier dinosaur places its foot on the sick dinosaur's head, but spares its life. This vignette got to me more than any of Spielberg and co's epic dino films or TV series. There's another sublime moment where Brad Pitt's rigid, cantankerous, discipline-obsessed father hugs his eldest son after much belittling and tells him he is a 'sweet boy'.
There's so much cinematic pap out there that gets financed. Thank god for Terrence Malick's vision and poetry. He reminds us to pay attention to every aspect of this torrid, confused, horrifying life and liberate ourselves from all that scares and harms us... and to keep reaching for the 'beautiful light', like Jim Caviezel's restless soldier in Malick's other gem The Thin Red Line.
LJ, December 9 2011