The Tree of Life
I’ve just seen The Tree of Life for the second time. It is a very beautiful and moving film on several levels….I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts.
The first 1/4 of the film is an amazing cinematographic version of Job 38 – 41. I suggest you read it for yourself. In fact, I suggest you read it out loud while pacing back and forth in a room. It is a great passage for putting you in your place as a tiny little human being whose entire life occupies a speck of time.
The middle section of the film, I see as a revealing of principle character’s journeys about trying to find some answers to the tough life questions that we all have. The mom is struggling with the loss of her son. The older son is dealing with his loss of innocence. with his success in the light of his brother’s death. The father is dealing with his own ambitions (and lack of fulfilling them) and role as father.
Each of these characters reach some resolution near the end. The mother is able to release her son, the older son rediscovers his goodness, the brother is renewed through his vision heaven-like scene on the beach. Here he is finally able to see himself as a young boy genuinely hugging his father.
I love the off camera lines spoken be the mother throughout the film, almost like the words of Christ.
“Unless you love, your life will flash by”
“The nuns taught us there were two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things. “
And it is this quote that summarizes the film: the struggle, the contrast between “nature”, perhaps represented by the father as harsh, unforgiving, unpredictable and “grace” as incarnated by the mother.
The last section of the movie could be interpreted as some sort of heaven scene. It was a very moving portrayal of seeing loved ones and reconciling with them.
And finally the music played a huge role in this film. Glorious music was played loudly while 3 little boys play innocently in a tree. I loved this commentary on the holiness of everyday life. Also the use of Preisner’s Lacimosa touched me several times. Also there was some John Tavener, Góreck, Brahms and Bach just to name a few. Here’s a complete list.