Terrence Malick fans will be excited and impressed with his latest cinematic masterpiece, The Tree of Life -- three years in the making. Malick creates a huge visual landscape that spans from the beginning of time through to present day.
At times the films seems very disjointed and shows off a strange combination of what appears to be independent shots thrown together, but a closer look and appreciation for the epic nature of the film will reveal a well thought-out visual landscape, showing the awesomeness of nature and the world that holds us all.
The majority of the film is centered around a family in the 1950s. Brad Pitt plays the patriarch of the O'Briens -- a family of three young boys. The makeup of this family is represented with a combination of shots, which show the relationship between the father, mother, and their three children. Pitt plays a very stern, yet loving father who tries to show his boys the way of the world. He is not a soft, comforting force, but a brutal representation of the hardships people will face.
The mother is quite the opposite -- she is loving and caring and the boys clearly favor her, but she is criticized by Pitt's character as turning them against him with her devoted love and adoration.
The eldest son, Jack, is extremely torn with his relationship with his father -- on the one hand he loves him and wants his approval, but on the other hand, he comments that he wishes his father were dead. This internal confusion is common as children grow -- at times, Malick creates a very unlikeable character, but he still represents the real thoughts and feelings associated with growing pains and contemplating the meaning of life at a young age.
The film is full of metaphors that are meant to make an audience think. These images are Malick's take on the universe and what people represent in the grand scheme of things, but it's a film with multiple interpretations that will be very different from person to person.
The film starts with the death of one of the three boys and shows the family coping with the loss of their son. It ends full circle with beautiful images of the afterlife and Malick's interpretation of . The beach and water create the perfect platform for loved ones to finally meet again and we see an amazing reunion that shows the characters as the perfect image of themselves.
The Tree of Life is a spiritual film that won't necessarily translate to a mainstream audience, but it is a perspective on life and how human's fit into the great landscape we call home.