Monday, November 14, 2011

The Walk Between

I can't stop thinking about Terrence Malick's film The Tree of Life.

Apparently this film polarizes people. I can see why. It's probably a love it or hate it experience. No meh. I think I loved it. It's so beautiful. It's so strange too. But it immersed me, even absorbed me at times. I can't recall a film that was such an intrapersonal experience for me. The film is so...fraught.

Maybe it was timing but I couldn't stop thinking about my deceased father, my childhood, my personal struggle to be a good father. Moreover, I couldn't stop thinking about my own combination of grace and nature, the concepts on which the film seems hinged. In Mrs. O'Brien's words:

"The nuns taught us there were two ways through life--the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you'll follow. Grace doesn't try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love smiling through all things."

There were several scenes and one recurring image that captured me. First the image: water. Water uncontained and water contained, such as early in the film when Mr. O'Brien kinks the water-hose. In one scene, a dining room chair seems to move on its own. In another scene Mr. O'Brien does repairs underneath a car so very precariously perched on a jack while his son stalks back and forth. That silent scene terrified me. So did the scene where Jack's mother ministers to the criminals. And I still wonder what was going on in the attic?

There's also a tender scene where one brother kisses his kid brother's arm seeking forgiveness for cruelty. His brother wipes his saliva away. He kisses his arm again. Again, it's wiped away.

For me, this scene represents the film's clearest meaning. Humanity. Our inhumanity. Our isolation. Our inter-connectness. And the timeless wayward sad line we all walk in life between tenderness and ruthlessness.

14 comments:

Laoch of Chicago said...

I haven't seen the film but I can say the most important step to being a good father is caring about being a good father.

Beliza said...

I think you described the movie really well. I liked it, even if I was a bit perplexed by it. It is beautiful, simple yet complex and so so human...
Watching it is a very personal experience and I don't feel that anyone can stay completely unaffected by it. It's either love or hate as you say.

Alistair said...

I've not seen this either but no way would I miss it after that!

Thanks.

Pickleope said...

Isn't it great when a movie hits your sweet spot?
You have compelled me to see it with your beautiful description.

wendy said...

I have never seen nor heard of that film. Sounds intriging for sure.
I was most moved by the statement ...."find reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shinning around"
WOW
I really want to remember that.
Try to put aside my Mortal self a little, and reach a little Beyond that....
thanks

Vinny C said...

I'll be checking this one out.

karensomethingorother said...

where the hell have I been, once again? I haven't even heard of it. Now I have something to google tonight!

Homemaker Man said...

Been mighty curious about this movie. You just decided me on seeing it. And got me talkin lik g w bush.

j. littlejohn said...

i saw this in theatres. brad pitt knocked his role out of the park. probably on of the most ambitious films i've ever seen

Tom G. said...

Alright, I'm convinced. I've got to see this one now.

Josh said...

Wow.

If I were half as introspective as you, I'd probably enjoy watching more things than just UFC fights.

Yeah ... that's not gonna happen.

Kerry said...

Oh man. I thought I would love this movie, but I didn't. There were some beautiful parts, sure. But it went on way too long, and needed some serious editing. Didn't help that my husband got food poisoning 3/4 of the way through.

Michael said...

Nice review. This one was a right brain experience for me. I was mesmerized by the pace, the mood, and the music. I left feeling like I was educated in a deep way in a place just below consciousness.

Wouldn't it be lovely to live by grace?

PokerLawyer said...

Oh, wow. Your words definitely make me wanna see this. I have seen some tweets that I guess could serve as examples of that polarization you mention. The stuff you picked up on, though...I live for that stuff. :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...