Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Tree of Life

Terence Malik, 2011, 132m

This is a film about religion from the viewpoint of a highly perceptive sceptic. It tries to portray on its canvas the Mystery as it would appear to a human being of our generation equipped with the accumulated knowledege of the race.

It summarises in enthtalled cinematography the grandeur of the birth of the universe, the emergence of life and the drama of evolution. There is an intriguing patch about a good hearted dinasaur who declines to feed on another that lies dying. Everything is done in a way that is faithful to science in a poetic sense. It presents the dimensions if not the details of what surrounds us.

And finally all this is wound around the life of a contemporary American family--three brothers and their parents--and the griefs and anger which populte the luxuriantly beautiful world in which they live.They go through the pain of birth, death and discord, all summed up in a desolation in sharp contrast with the overall grandeur of the processes of the universe. What a mis-shapen thing so often is the thing called a family! It would seem that modern man is as intermediate a stage as were the dinasaurs in contrast to all that followed.

The question of an order within events is raised, and the arguments articulated by Job are eloquently expressed. To top it all, we have a vision of the Hereafter, where everybody meets everybody else, including themselves at different age, and all is love and blessedness.

The film is too direct and explicit and cannot escape the charge of resemblance to the National Geographic. It is a naive theological/scientific statement, and serves an educational purpose similar to Avatar, but is far less enjoyable. Probably it is too glazedly American for the rest of us to catch the nuances in one go. A revisit will definitely be a burden. I understand that the local audience responds to the human story with strong nostalgia and this is precisely where it might draw a blank from the rest of us. It looks like a never never land half way to another planet.


Anonymous said...

There are some parts that did not work for me, but I admired it a lot while immersed in its wonderful images and terrific soundtrack. I still have not revisited it yet - I really have to watch it again to confirm whether I just admire it or not.

Thanks for a good review.

S M Rana said...