Malick’s ‘The Tree of Life’

July 1, 2011 § 8 Comments

Two main controversies surround The Tree of Life. First is the daring inclusion of a largely autonomous VFX sequence depicting the birth of the universe, the coagulation of the solar system, the evolution of life on Earth up to the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction, and a brief bookend presaging Earth’s annihilation. Second is the inclusion of a heavily symbolic finale sequence—reminiscent of the coalescence of dream and memory in —which finds scattered precedents towards the beginning of the film and delimits the creation sequence. Both mark entirely new territory for Malick. Whereas his previous films seemed mired in the pure, unfettered presentation of a self-enclosed, human-disclosed world, here Malick takes us beyond the option of worldhood in two temporal directions: both the ancestral and the terminal. For the first time Malick explores the radical contingency of the material universe in the utter absence of any Dasein whatsoever. It is also the first time that, as far as my interpretation will go, Malick attempts to actually picture the scene of Dasein in its primacy as a concept. « Read the rest of this entry »

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