Terrence Malick‘s sprawling magnum opus, The Tree of Life, debuted at Cannes and won the Palme d’Or nearly three years ago. In that interim, the film has revitalized its notoriously selective filmmaker and is considered by many to be a defining work for this decade of cinema; the late Roger Ebert even included it on his final Sight & Sound ballot as one of the 10 greatest films of all time. Some audiences are unable to connect with Malick’s blatant spirituality, its lengthy cosmic detours, and meandering quality, and while we understand we may be unable to convert the skeptics, today we have a series of videos that offer a new perspective, whether you cherish the film or not.
The first is a thirty-minute documentary entitled The Making of the Tree of Life. Included on the Blu-ray, but now available online, the film’s stars Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt elaborate on Malick’s peculiar methods of directing — but it’s the commentary provided by Malick’s contemporaries, David Fincher and Christopher Nolan, that best articulate the director’s notable qualities.
The second video returns to the film’s experience at Cannes. Joining the film’s stars for this thirty-five minute press conference are the team of producers who helped realize Malick’s film over many years, including Dede Gardner, Sarah Green and Bill Pohlad. Malick may be returning to the festival this spring with two potential projects: Knight of Cups and an untitled, Austin-set drama, both at least ready to be screened sometime this year.
Next up, because The Tree of Life is undeniably a work that needs to be unpackaged, dissected and discussed, we’ve included a video essay by Spencer Everhart on “Malick’s Lyrical Branches.” Everhart grapples with the films most stunning and divisive sequence: the creation portion of the film. Everhart’s case for the film is one we absolutely support, concluding that The Tree of Life is “a rewarding and supremely valuable work of cinema” for all to “see, hear, feel and experience”.
Lastly, we have a pair of videos that take a look at the film from a Christian point-of-view. Both Calvin College professor of English Roy Anker and Father Robert Barron dedicated some time after the film was released to provide insight on its themes and their relation to the Bible and Malick’s perspective. Take a look below, along with the rest of the videos and a few behind-the-scenes stills, one notably featuring Emmanuel Lubezki at work.
Do consider The Tree of Life to be one of the best films of recent years?