I was intrigued by the article in DN recommending this movie, so we branched out
of our normal routines, found a local theater, and went to see it. We had four
people in our group: me and my wife (mid-40's LDS), my mother (77 yrs old) and
my 14 yr old son, so several demographics were represented.We
managed to stay in the theater for the entire movie, but after the show, there
was a unanimous vote that it was the worst, most boring movie we had ever seen.
The creation segment was intriguing to me, but after that, the script died and
it became painful to sit through. We struggled to find some meaning or
symbolism, but just couldn't. It was a dark, depressing movie that was
I strongly agree with Robin Pearce's comments. I would like to add that the
adults (who are fighting for good) in the HP series are not abusive, but are
loving and encouraging to Harry; there are even those who have passed through
this life who continue to strengthen and teach him from the life beyond. The
way these sequences are portrayed are in an extremely positive manner. Call me
shallow, but we, along with the masses, have devoured each book, read them aloud
with our children, discussed the books, anticipated every movie and were not
disappointed when we saw the Saturday matinee!!! We need more positive, not so
Based on this column and several reviews I read I saw this movie on Saturday.WHAT A MISTAKE! When I saw that only 8 people were sitting in the theater, I
should have suspected something was amiss.This movie was undoubetly the
rottenst movie I have ever seen in my life of 65 years.Many have touted
this as art and on the level of 2001 A Space Oddessy. What ever you
people are smoking I wished I'd had some before I went into the theather.A
word to the wise--Don't waste your time or money on this cinematic dud.
Thank you for recommending this artistic film. I would like to say, however, in
response to the first line of this article, that I believe Harry Potter and the
Deathly Hallows is a film that every parent--every person--should want to see.
That the film is a monumental blockbuster should not overshadow the fact that
the tale is a literary masterpiece. It is a story of love, loss, loyalty, and
innocence; of fierce friendship and ultimate sacrifice; of death and rebirth. It
is a story of courage and the struggle to believe. This children's tale has a
power beyond the reach of any magic.
This is NOT "the movie Mormon parents will enjoy". Stop saying that!
(I got another email today from DN making that claim.) Virtually NO ONE enjoys
this movie! That's why it is dismally attended (if you can even find it). It
STINKS! The movie is depressing; the almost-non-plot is poorly told; the
"glorious" cinematography is dark and foreboding. It's boring! In 20
minutes you've watched the whole thing and you'll spend the next two hours
writhing in your seat, wanting to walk out or waiting for it to get better.
(Spoiler: It doesn't.) This article should be withdrawn for false advertising.
"The Tree of Life" opens with a question from the 38th chapter of the
Book of Job: Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? When the
morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?In this film, as in the scripture, the question is not answered. The character of the father is incoherent: he is an accomplished organist; he
tries to teach his boys to be tough - to box and win fights out in their
neighborhood; he is physically and emotionally abusive to his tender wife and
to his sons; he gently pats them on the shoulders; he insists that they call him
"Sir"; he sends them to bed without supper if they speak without being
first spoken to; he encourages them to love classical music.Perhaps
this father represents the God of the Old Testament: you never know if he wants
to banish you or embrace you; his unpredictability makes his entire family
paranoid; when he leaves on a business trip, they finally experience some relief
and brief happiness.
This film from the start has had mixed responses: its first official showing was
at the Cannes, France film festival where the audience booed and applauded it.
In the end the Film Festival gave Malick's film its highest honor. From there,
the film crossed the pond and was only released to art house venues (the
distributors probably knew that it is only meant for a culturally perceptive and
educated audience). After having finally seen the work of art myself and having
read some of the responses to a journalist's recommendation of it, I have to
agree with Afeemuse's opinion that this film is not for just anyone, you must
have a cultural education and be prepared to be intellectually engaged, not
spoon-fed or entertained. It is a cultural litmus test of sorts. Our reaction
to The Tree of Life says more about us than the film or its genius director.
(Big sigh!) Judging by many responses, I believe our educational system is
severely lackingmany of us cannot recognize a great work of art when we see it.
(And some, namely Mrmugooo, need more grammar lessons to learn the difference
between adjectives and nouns.)
I am laughing out loud reading these comments! You guys are hilarious! Who
goes to any movie based on what this reviewer says? Afeemuse's proved that she
knows a lot of adjectives but holy cow!.. Really, all I care about is whether
the pop corn is good! (And by the way, Mr. Bean's Holiday is a classic!!)
We sat all the way through this amazing movie because there was no single moment
of offense sufficient to trigger our escape. It was more like the frog who died
in the pot because there was no one point of warning. But when the credits
finally appeared on the screen to signal its end, our group actually applauded;
not for the show, but for its end. If they offered me the price of the show to
sit through it again, I would refuse. The movie was a downer! All we could see
was family abuse and intense unhappiness, interspersed with an hour and a half
of unrelated film footage someone found in the archives.Don't waste
your time, your money, or your patience to sit through this mess.
The Tree of Life is a prayer, a requiem, a memory, or series of memories,
impressions, glimpses, visions of light and shadow, a poem, a reverence for life
and love. Most truly great works of art are not created to be popular, or
understood by everyone all the time. Rather, they require from us patience,
understanding, perception, sensitivity, meditation, transcendence, and yes, even
spirituality. They are multi-layered, filled with meaning, symbolism, and
insight into the human experience in all its complexity. And they often defy
contemporary conventions and models. They sometimes jar, push, force, disturb,
purge, sift. But they also teach, impress, awe-inspire, invigorate, exalt, even
heal. And they endure, as surely this film will. We may judge this film; but,
as with all creative masterpieces, it will now and forever always judge us.
I agree with kareeleemo - it was a pompous, random and convoluted movie. And
Terrence Malick does not know how to edit films. People who say this is an art
film are using the term very loosely. It is what it is, folks. So why try to
make it into some kind of monumental piece? At least monumental pieces like Gone
With the Wind have decent story lines. The story line in this movie was very
weak. The portrayal of the parents was as kareeleemo stated. The
good thing about renting it is that you could fast forward it - but I would end
up fast forwarding the entire film - so why bother?
While I'm glad the reviewer had an enjoyable experience, I have to disagree with
several points of her review.Based on the review, I was excited to
see the movie. I love deep, thought-provoking movies and books, but I found this
to be pompous, random and convoluted. It lacked direction and was at times
downright silly. And it took itself so seriously.The reviewer talked
about the "borderline abusive" father and the joys of childhood in a
day when the children played outside and navigated the neighborhood. I saw an
absolutely abusive father, a shrinking violet mother that didn't stand up for
her children and intervene, and a miserable boy. He wasn't happy. This wasn't an
idyllic childhood. This was a boy who felt like his father hated him. He was
sad, lonely and acting out. And there was nothing borderline about about the
abuse.One random scene after another after another. We wanted it to
end. We needed it to end. And in my opinion, Terrence Malick needs to learn how
to edit his films. He seemed unable to let go of anything, no matter how
insignificant it was.
a_fee_muse is very accurate in his/her statement. Very well said. I
saw this movie twice in the cinema and was moved each time. What a beautiful and
inspiring piece of art. Like anything spiritual and inspiring you want to share
it with everyone but, not everyone is ready to hear it or understand it. I just
feel blessed for the experience.
'The Tree of Life' is that very rare film that will always reveal more about the
person watching the film than the viewer can ever say about the film. It is a
work of art that will stand the test of time. Most of the negative critiscm
hurtled its way will not.
I would offer a correction to this article."Most of the images
are set to a soaring score of classical music."This is an
honest and common mistake but is inaccurate. Orchestral scoring is very typical
of the film scoring world, but there is a very big difference between a typical
'orchestral' film score and classical music or a classical-period styled
score.Classical music relies on very certain forms and principles in
writing. Hans Zimmer knows these principles and is certainly capable of them,
but uses more of a 'sound design' approach. Pirates III is orchestral, but by no
means classical in its form and style. John Williams typically scores in a style
that is similar to one certain period in classical music... so he is certainly a
good comparison point that is well known... but there are scores that are much
more 'classical' than even his own.I'm not saying by any means that
the film score here isn't good or that everyone will know the difference by
saying 'classical' or not, but as it is my interest and to people like me there
is a very big difference so I just thought I'd offer the clarification.
I usually do not comment, but it pains me to see so much lack of support for
phenomenal, spiritual art. Reading some of these posts I am reminded of a
Simpsons episode where you get a glimpse into Homer's brain and see him laughing
hysterically at a cymbal-playing wind-up monkey. I agree that
those who do not like this are better suited for louder, flashier movies like
Thor, Transformers and even (gasp!) Harry Potter. Nothing wrong with these
flicks, per se, but they require little more than a brain stem. You can walk
out of the multiplex and have a deep, intellectual conversation with your spouse
about transcendent themes like BANG! FAST! GIRL! GUNS!!! EXPLOSION!, or whether
the Decepticons or Autobots will rule the universe, etc. Yes, these are the
kinds of movies that generously allow you to slip out to the snack bar for your
Ju-Ju Bees, take a long bathroom break, and never miss a beat. Hey, after a
long week at work, who doesn't want to sit back mouth agape, drooling into a
Jumbo Icee, take a virtual brain nap and still get every nuance.Quayle's comment is right on the money.
Because of this review I was planning to see it tonight but the time slot has
moved. After reading these reviews maybe Redbox is a better choice for it
I agree with everyone who said that this movie was painful. It dragged on and
on.The music and scenes of nature were nice, but it wasn't complimented with a
good story line. It is a very vague film. True, the older brother learns a
lesson in forgiveness from his younger brother - o.k. so there's a spoiler for
anyone who hasn't seen it. The parents are divided in their approach to child
raising and so the message that is subliminally given says that parents can just
be themselves and the kids can figure things out the best they can. Not my idea
of an uplifting film. I wouldn't waste my time. You're better off watching
re-runs of Andy of Mayberry!
In "Mr. Bean's Holiday", the actor/director played by Willem Dafoe
makes a pretentious, artsy-fartsy movie that Mr. Bean later edits. That awful,
pre-edited movie is FAR BETTER than this abominable flick. (In fact, the two
films are very similar -- only this tortuous, disturbing nonsense goes ON and ON
and ON.) If any were still sitting in their seats (there were only 8
of us in the theater), they were either asleep or too embarrassed to be seen
walking out after having paid $11 per ticket to view this dismal, depressing,
disturbing (and really quite ugly) dreck.You've been warned. (And I
will NEVER believe a review by Tiffany Lewis or Roger Ebert again. They are
The last time I was in a movie where half the audience walked out was 'O
Brother, Where Art Thou', which we grew to enjoy and now consider as a classic.
I guess it all depends on the viewers pespective, life experiences,
and cognitive aptitudes when first exposed to a film. Maybe, 'Tree
of Life' will treat the topic a little better than one of its predecessors. 'The
Fountain'. For all of its cineramic beauty, I didn't get that one.In this redbox era, we find ourselves renting films to digest them slowly or
watch over and over with subtitles to comprehend. Sometime we get it, and other
times, we don't. Most films, we don't even approach, knowing pretty much there
will be no redemptive qualities just by reading reviews or seeing the trailer.
This review and subsequent blog just made me wait for redbox, rather than pay
Note to DN Monitors: The movie "The Tree of Life" that Ms. Lewis
recommends in this article begins with and is based entirely on the statement:
There are two ways through life."-----But they are not
the ways Ms. Lewis interprets from this film.There are two ways
through life.One way believes there are only two ways through life,
the right way and the wrong way. This way assumes holism, rationalistic
metaphysics, monism, and collectivism. It attempts to force all things into
"one great whole". Because it presume you and your kin got the
absolute, "one and only true" (right) way, and everybody else needs
your patronizing, condescending "help" to come around to your right
way, this way is fundamentally haughty, condemnatory, condescending, closed,
conservative, and intolerant.The other way believes there is an
infinite plethora and plurality of ways through life, and yours is just one:
your personal, unique way. Because it does not force its way into the superior
moral and epistemic position, this way advocates individualism, empiricism,
diversity, and pluralism. It is fundamentally accepting, tolerant, open,
generous, and liberal.Which way are you going through life?
"Not every Mormon family enjoys witchcraft. We never got on that 'cult like
following' train."A faithful Latter-day Saint can most
certainly remain true to the teachings of the Church and enjoy Harry Potter, or
at least aspects of it. I have 'issues' with Harry Potter like I have issues
with many publications or many forms of media from many diverse authors.
However, I don't have to agree with something to enjoy it.I enjoy a
lot of British programming (Doctor Who wins them all) and often will find very
atheist themes and ideas in them. I recognize these and simply disagree. They
have the right to story tell from their belief system just as we in the Church
have the same right.If I created a book about a wizard who was good,
clean, and in every way LDS... and magic was simple a parable for the priesthood
- there most certainly is nothing wrong with it. If I promoted sin as acceptable
behavior, then certainly there is a problem.----I am
only commenting as your statement of disappointment and cult reference infer
that people who enjoy HP are doing something morally wrong. - which would be
I was excited about your title. But sorely disappointed when I read your
article. Not every Mormon family enjoys witchcraft. We never got on that 'cult
like following' train.
Hey Newbury, does that mean you don't read the Book of Mormon either? It's all
I'm confused. The review on Fandango by this movie directed by Terrence Malick
is rated PG-13 for scenes of violence, abuse and several instances of language.
I can only surmise that there are two versions of this movie circulating...
because this "mormon parent" would never consider seeing this film.
@ JasonThank you for your excellent review and insights into
Malick's search for meaning. Trying to track down where it being shown in order
go see it this weekend.
What Kool Aid has this writer been drinking? She is writing for an LDS focused
news organization and not one of the local weekly Tabloids. This was the worst
movie I have ever almost seen [we walked out after an hour]. If your idea of a
wonderful insight into the meaning of life is to have Sean Penn take an hour in
Testimony meeting talking about his insight into the divine, then you might like
this movie. I wanted to jump up and scream, "If you only knew"!
This movie will drive 99.9% of any LDS audience crazy to the point of walking
out. I am a movie nut and often enjoy an actor's work even when I strongly
disagree with their lifestyle or philosophy, but this one is so far out of
bounds that it should be banned even in San Francisco. Shame on you; your
parents taught you better than this. You should take your family to see
"17 Miracles" if you want to have an uplifting evening.
My being snarky is another way to say some will greatly enjoy the movie and some
will not. The reviewer on "All Things Considered" was not so worried
that people left and interrupted those so deeply transfixed as she was horrified
that anyone would dare walk out on a masterpiece. She must have been intimately
in tune with Preisner. Geebes, does it automatically follow that if
one does not like the movie, that he or she cannot think deeply about the
purpose of life, etc etc? Also, some who were emotionally abused in
childhood may find this movie too much to be subjected to.
@ michaelm. You're worried that a portion of your entertainment dollar may be
going to an actor (or athlete or writer) whose politics or morals don't match
yours? Good luck with that. Does the same hold true for all the
other names in the credits who also earn money from the movies you see? Editors?
Producers? Coaches (I've seen G.A.s sitting within earshot of the bench)?
Publishers? Video game-programmers? If that were the case most of us would sit
home with the teeveee off, nothing to read, nothing to do but interact with
family and ponder -- which, by the way, is what this movie is about.
On one hand I really enjoyed this film. On the other, I wouldn't recommend it
to everyone. For those who think deep about the purposes of life,
who find symbolism and meaning in the mundane, who are fascinated with the
process of creation in all its forms, and who have an extremely long attention
span - this is for you. For everyone else I guess there is Thor and
Transformers.A sign of a good movie for me is when I am still
thinking about it the next day, and that was very much the case for this movie
(as expressed in the article). The film begins with a verse from Job 38, and
drew a lot of themes from that book. And like Job, it is somewhat confusing and
depressing until the end. But contrast is necessary in order to be realistic,
and avoid being fantastic and 'cheesy'.
So....where's it showing?
I haven't seen this movie and don't know much about it, but I recently spoke
with a friend at work who has seen it. He said it was pretty much the worst
movie he has ever sat through in a theater, and his friend he saw it with got up
and left half way through. My friend sees a lot of independent movies that are
different from the average blockbuster, so I don't think it would be fair to
simply say he "didn't get it." I'm curious to see what the fuss is
about, but I'll wait to see if my library gets it instead of spending time and
money at the theater.
I have to question anything with Sean Penn, not that I am critical of his
acting, but his politics which are always a large part of his acting choices are
often contrary to everything a conservative family minded person stands for. As an artist, which I am, I try to be considerate of the art itself,
still I find art and entertainment personal and hate to contribute to the
pocketbooks of those who use that money in a blatant attempt to destroy the
things I hold dear.Even with all that reading revues of the film and
talking online with friend who saw it most seem not to come away confused but
depressed. Many feel drained and disillusioned. I cannot understand how our
reporter came out so uplifted and seeing it as a great parental movie. I will
rent it as it's available at Blockbuster online already, another indicator that
it's not as great a movie as portrayed. But like other life sucking movies I'll
have a happy, light, and uplifting movie in the background to lift my spirits
after what most people see as a downer of a movie.
Rancho - While I can understand those walking out, it can be disconcerting to
find yourself completely immersed in and attuned to a film's emotional world,
while realizing that others in the same theater are so offput as to want to walk
out. Nothing particularly smug or pretentious about it.As for the
creation sequences - the film is filtered through the consciousness of a man
grieving his brother's death and trying to come to grips with his own place in
the universe, so there is a certain sorrowful feeling to the early sequences of
the film. It doesn't hurt that Preisner's "Lacrimosa" (a piece
written in memory of his good friend, the great filmmaker Kieslowski) is playing
on the soundtrack. However, the film does get much more joyful - some of the
scenes of childhood are among the most transcendent and euphoric ever captured
on filmUltimately, you either connect to the film or you don't. I
have seen the film twice now, and can honestly say that I want to be a better
person for it. However, it's definitely not a matter of intelligence or
sophistication, but rather being attuned to the filmmaker's sensibilities.
My wife and I were anxious to see this movie and were greatly disappointed.
Early on people were walking out. One person on "All Things
Considered" commented that she was "horrified" to learn that
people were walking out. Seriously? Horrified? How pretentious and smug. The creation scenes were beautiful to a degree but I have seem much
better. They should have been filled with joy and awe but for a reason I can't
explain, I started feeling depressed. The prehistoric scenes were sophomoric.
I got the point about about abuse. After sitting in agony for two
hours (the sound was either ear shattering loud or the voice overs were in
unintelligible whispers) the music had lyrics about "Amen, Amen,
Amen,..." and I thought o goody someone said the closing prayer and we can
leave, but it kept going ad nausium. A reviewer that Sunday night on PBS was
commenting on the ducumentary "Buck." She said it made her want to be
a better person. The "Tree of Life" just made me want to slit my
wrists.Maybe that was the point of the movie? I am just not
sophisticated and intellectual enough to do Malick.
Caution: this is a non-typical movie that is very daring and ambitious in how it
uses film to convey its message. This is not just another Hollywood movie
crafted to entertain with cotton candy.But if you have the patience
to see something other than the standard schlock, this is an amazing and
provocative and powerful movie about life and joy and pain and good and evil. My
wife and I have been talking about it off and on for a week now, after seeing
it.Also, I would say that this is not Man's Search for Happiness; it
is probably closer in theme to another film familiar to much of this
readership.Don't go if your wife wants to see a chick-flick. I
would even suggest you may not want to go if you don't like Citizen Cain because
of the way it cinematically tells its story.But if you want to see a
powerful and meaningful dramatic portrayal of the deepest questions of life, I
can't recommend it enough.
Thanks for the article. I had wanted to see this movie before and this
reinforces my desire. I will surely seek it out.I am still however
trying to understand the point of the dinosaurs comment though.
Tiffany is too brave. I felt the same about the movie, but didn't dare recommend
it to others. It's not linear story telling. It's art on film. Think Man's
Search for Happiness combined with creation scenes -- only done right by your
favorite photographer. Like life, the reward comes at the end if you can endure.
But there is a lot of thinking along the way.
I love movies but from what little I saw about this movie, it didn't look
interesting and wondered even about the appropriateness of it. So thank you for
Sounds interesting, but I still can't wait for Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows Part 2.