Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Tree of Life

Of all of the films we've commented about on this blog, this one might be the toughest to summarize. But here's a try: The Tree of Life tells the coming-of-age story of a boy (and his family) in suburban Waco, TX in the 1950s. But the story is told from a cosmic perspective, framed within the context of the universe as a whole and eternity itself. What a challenge! But Terrence Malick, the director, and other artists rose to the task and created a movie that is akin to a strange but powerful painting in a fancy art museum: You know it's deep, you know it's important, but no matter how hard to try you can't quite wrap your mind around it. And that's the point, anyway, since the same dilemma arises when attempting to ascribe ultimate meaning to a seemingly mundane event, or when attempting to fully comprehend the farthest reaches of space and time. And this story is full of mundane events set against the backdrop of the furthest reaches of space and time.

God has set eternity in the hearts of men, to be sure, and this film speaks to that truth. And God is there. He's the Creator. This is not a Christian film by any measure, but it serves well to echo many of the questions that believers and non-believers alike may pose to God when faced with hardship or uncertainty--or boredom: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where are you? Why? Watch this film and let some little boys, Brad Pitt, sunshine, shadows, dinosaurs, and blood vessels guide you back into that discussion. It is a thing of beauty, no doubt about it. Just don't depend on it for the answers.

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