Tree of Life

Why Audiences Can’t Sit For or Stand The Tree of Life

What is most surprising about the premiere of The Tree of Life and its subsequent box-office failure due to a powerfully negative word of mouth is that if any film was the right film for the right moment (that moment being our living in a time of spiritual, economic, and environmental disasters), it is this wonder of images. The film presents the world as harmonious and cracked (humans are those fractured, nature is another story), yet spatial—intimate in childhood, while thunderingly antiseptic in the present day matrix of skyscrapers and homes equipped with plasma screens. As consumer culture tightens its grip on our souls, here is a piece of craftsmanship so sure of its place apart from imitation art (also known as Oscar bait—Dances with Wolves, et al.), that it happily eschews many drab protocols and the rub-a-dub sentimental stew of traditionally arching storylines and instead, gives us images that aren’t simple, that have to be read, that have to be reflected upon and interpreted, that ask us to share in their beauty rather than be repelled and manipulated by a gratuitous splatter of plot points and snappy, smarmy dialogue where one asshole rips another to bring the audience into the product’s fold, as so many of these products are the brainchild of some starstruck, cash-hoarding producer, or a Hollywood star struck by scandal, needing money to quell attorneys and so gleefully takes a gun or three and blows holes in the bad guys for a few hours more.


Film / 39 Comments
December 1st, 2011 / 12:08 pm