Magazine article U.S. Catholic

The Tree of Life

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

The Tree of Life

Article excerpt

THE TREE OF LIFE

Directed by Terrence Malick (Fox Searchlight, 2011)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Terrence Malick's kaleidoscopic masterpiece about, well, everything raises several universal questions, but one query this dazzling film answers definitively is: Why make movies?

Most contemporary films entertain 14-year-old boys with rapid-fire special effects, while others translate novels into a cinematic narrative furnished with a tapestry of lovely scenery. But Malick does not strap us into a theme park ride or let us glide along the surface of a picture book story. For him movies are an art form meant to engage, unsettle, overwhelm, and--dare one say it?--transform us. Malick the filmmaker uses the full palette of cinematic art to engage the sacramental mystery at the heart of our wondrous, terrifying, and concrete existence.

In The Tree of Life Malick has fashioned a cinematic triptych: a central narrative bracketed by two otherworldly pieces exploring our origins and ultimate destination. The opening act serves up a sumptuous visual and musical synthesis of Genesis and the Big Bang, marveling at the grace and wonder of our very existence. …

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