Many fascinating and insightful comments have been made about Terrence Malick’s fill “The Tree of Life.” You will find below a few of my favourite quotes from reviews, articles, and comments I have read.

Marcelo Gleiser – Malick attempts to transform the movie theater into a temple. (http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2011/08/17/139680194/the-tree-of-life-need-we-choose-between-grace-and-nature?sc=fb&cc=fp)

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Roger Ebert – Terrence Malick’s new film is a form of prayer. It created within me a spiritual awareness, and made me more alert to the awe of existence. (“A prayer beneath the Tree of Life” http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2011/05/a_prayer_beneath_the_tree_of_l.html)

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The Toronto Star June 3, 2011 – “The message of each of his movies is that you are not the centre of the universe, and as soon as you realize that, the happier you will be,” says Matt Zoller Seitz, a New York film critic and Malick authority…. He’s encouraging people to take in the whole of the cosmos around them, something that’s often lacking in our self-centred lives. “I don’t believe in a God, a guy with a beard in the sky,” Seitz says, “but when I go to Malick’s films, I often feel the way I’m supposed to be feeling in church.” (http://www.thestar.com/mobile/entertainment/article/1001944)

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Brad Pitt – I was surprised, watching it last night, how powerfully it struck me. What the film was saying to me is that there is an unexplained power; there is this force. And maybe peace can be found, but not by trying to explain it with the religion. Maybe there’s peace to be found just in that acceptance of the unknown. (http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2074238,00.html#ixzz1TPLZ8iBI )

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Q: Malick should have called his film The Mystery of Life, because there are so many intriguing elements in it. Did you understand the nature/grace dichotomy the film expresses?

Jessica Chastain: Yes. You know what I recently thought? I kind of always knew it, but now I’ve seen the film four times and I’ve talked to Terry a lot about it. The last time I saw it, I really emotionally connected with the idea that in a way, there’s no such thing as death. When someone or something dies, there’s rebirth of sorts. Even in the beginning (of the film), when there’s the loss and Mrs. O’Brien is reaching out into the universe and saying, “What are we to you? Why? Why would you do this?” The universe answers back and there’s a back-and-forth with the music and her beseeching another question. The universe answers her questions of death with a creation of life.

At the end, too, you see the same thing. It’s cyclical. Nothing really ever ends. And the last time I saw it, I was so incredibly moved by that thought. Every time I see it, I hope it’s like this for everyone, where you get more and more out of it, the deeper you go into it. (an interview with Jessica Chastain (The Toronto Star June 10, 2011)

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Niles SchwartzThe Tree of Life is too sincere to be pretentious, and though many of us may scoff at one man’s presumption to link his own biography to the origins of life, Malick is in fact calling out for us to do the same, and so to wonder about our Being, rather than just being-in-the-world, working day to day, reading internet articles, watching The Hangover Part II and Sex and the City, and drinking PBRs. The Tree of Life is Malick’s “Song of Myself,” recalling Whitman:

I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. ( http://nilesfilmfiles.blogspot.com/2011/06/song-of-himself-terrence-malicks-tree.html)

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Jake – As a staunch atheist, I found this to be perhaps the first film to rate with classical music as a truly inspiring demonstration of God through art. I’ve sometimes joked that I feel sorry for God; he used to have Michelangelo and Bach to praise him, and now he has Kirk Cameron and Christian Rock. These people try to make works about the self-evident nature of God, but frankly they fail because they are mediocre. When one listens to something as beautiful and timeless as Haydn’s Creation or Beethoven’s 9th, one can almost feel a guiding force because God and art intertwine. As religious as those aforementioned compositions are, they are not preaching documents but expressions of belief and inspiration, and The Tree of Life is such a work. It isn’t out to convert you; it’s simply one man’s personal expression of how he views the universe, and because he does not seek to speak for others, others can come naturally to it.
(http://armchairc.blogspot.com/2011/06/tree-of-life-terrence-malick-2011.html)

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Brett McCracken – The Tree of Life manages to showcase both man’s glory and his inestimable smallness. Life, in the end, is not about us making a mark. It’s about tuning our ears to the symphony of life around us, paying attention to the bigger story, and doing our best to love each other and receive grace in the time we’ve been given. (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/movies/reviews/2011/treeoflife.html)

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Carlos D. – ‘The Tree of Life’ becomes less baffling and less scattered in subsequent viewings – indeed it becomes coherent, cohesive, almost economical in its extravagant displays – and more deeply felt. You can almost sense on the surface of your mind how the movie actually works without ever being entirely capable of putting your finger on what makes it work so. You notice the subtle internal rhythms of the film; how a piece of music (or sometimes silence) carries over a sequence; the insistent pattern of images scattered throughout the movie. What seemed like longueurs at first (because we didn’t have the normal dramatic arc to hang on to) now become integral portions of the text. There is no indulgence or carelessness here. It all adds up – slowly, mysteriously, ambiguously. (https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/a-second-chance-for-terrence-malicks-the-tree-of-life/#comments)

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Jaqueline – For me this is the important message of the film…that it is in our everyday, in the people we love and encounter; in the trees, the water, the butterfly, the ground, the earth…a father’s arm, a mother’s skin; this here and now is where the transcendent dwells…I truly embrace what seems to be this piece of the message of the film..It seems such an antidote to the spirituality that says we have to free ourselves from earth and our bodies, that they are no more than a tent or a temporary dwelling, as if God has not said that the resurrection is for the earth and our bodies as well and that all creation groans for the end of it’s imprisonment. (https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/the-tree-of-life-12-terrence-malick-wants-a-response/#comments)