Friday, May 20, 2011

Will "Adventurous Christians" Enjoy The Tree of Life?

I haven't made it much of a secret that I'm very excited about Terrence Malick's film The Tree of Life. My curiosity was certainly piqued when I read this section of one reviewer who saw the film at the Canne film festival.
If it sounds like I'm saying that "The Tree of Life" is a puzzler, that it blends uncanny clarity and extraordinary powers of perception with what sometimes seems like murky, pretentious chaos and that it's suffused with a spiritual and even religious sensibility that will provoke an allergic response in quite a few viewers, you're on the right track....

Actually, the questions Malick is pursuing in "The Tree of Life" are simple, even purposefully naive ones that have plagued human beings since the beginning of time. It's his method of asking and answering them that is both highly aestheticized and likely to provoke controversy. (I won't discuss the end of the film, but implausible as this may sound, "The Tree of Life" may appeal to more adventurous Christian viewers.) They range from "the microscopic story of a family in a small town in Texas" to "the macroscopic story of the birth of the cosmos," as Brad Pitt put it at the press conference.
I know that my many friends who prefer the less artsy and visual films may not appreciate this, after all we Reformed are known for our delight in objective, logical, straightforward facts. However, I could probably be classified as one of those "adventurous Christian viewers" who will probably really appreciate this film. I tend to like Malick's subjective style, and since he is consistently unwilling to do interviews or offer interpretations of his films, I always feel at liberty to read my Christian worldview into his work. Plus, the fact that he does attend an Episcopal church in Texas, where he lives makes me think that there may be a sort of broadly Christian worldview being projected by this film (albeit, one that includes theistic evolution). A review will be forthcoming in a few weeks. Until then, I will wait very impatiently.

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