The Tree of Life (2011)
Written and directed by Terrence Malick. 139 mins. PG-13. Starring Jessica Chastain, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Hunter McCracken.
It’s one of the best scenes in a very remarkable film, Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011). A mother (Jessica Chastain) plays and cavorts with her three boys, and what we see, all set to Smetana’s The Moldau, is pure fun, exuberance, and, as her voiceover will convey, deepest praise and thanksgiving. The boundless gratitude Mrs. O’Brien displays forms a sizeable part of Malick’s profoundly Christian vision, namely the lavish beauty of creation and the astonishing gift of being alive within it to partake, savor, and exult (other scenes show here delighting in lawn sprinklers and in the perching of a butterfly on her hand). The church has long neglected an emphasis that glows in the Old and New Testaments, and in theologians from Calvin to Edwards, poets from Emily Dickinson to Mary Oliver, and novelists from Herman Melville (“the visible spheres were formed in love”) to Marilynne Robinson.
written by Roy Anker