Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Trailerspotting gawps in disbelief at The Tree of Life.

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here! The first trailer for The Tree of Life has arrived. A few months ago, we speculated that, its release delayed more often than the last Guns ‘n’ Roses album, Terrence Malick‘s much anticipated saga …

Thu, Dec 16, 2010, 21:04

   

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here! The first trailer for The Tree of Life has arrived. A few months ago, we speculated that, its release delayed more often than the last Guns ‘n’ Roses album, Terrence Malick‘s much anticipated saga might be some sort of post-modern hoax. After all, it is now nearly two years since the first expected date of arrival. Heck, maybe it is still a hoax. If so, Malick and his gang are taking their prank very seriously indeed. Though just two-minutes long, the promo is something of an epic in itself. Here goes…

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The first thing to say is that, by golly, it doesn’t half look and sound like a Malick film. His last two pictures, The Thin Red Line and The New World, have specialised in transposing gnomic musings — “A man ain’t no more than grace dancing to a solitary flute.” — with beautiful images from nature. Enjoy the parrot and wait for the aphorism. What do we start with here? Spooky shots of primordial mists, the planet radiating concentric shock-waves and a surging wave are followed by one of those characteristically blissed-out voices saying: “There are two ways through life: the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow.” This is like starting a Carry On film with a shot of Barbara Windsor’s bosoms. We immediately know where we stand. There’s more of this at  1’13” when a voice  says: “Some day we’ll fall down and weep and we’ll understand it all. All things.” If you say so, Terry.

The central story appears to be the oldest and the most worn-out in American cinema: fathers and their sons. From what I can gather, Brad Pitt is a harsh man who treats his boy in a somewhat uncompromising manner. So awful is the stress that he grows up to neurotically chew the scenery with a gusto that only Sean Penn can manage.

The trailer suggests, however, that the creaky story is told with a grandiosity that makes 2001: A Space Odyssey look like Garfield 2: A Tail of Two Kitties. Planets collide. Supernovae boil. I’m betting that — remember the picture allegedly features dinosaurs — the impact in the early section is the asteroid fall that many believe caused the extinction of those giant lizards.

Now, there is every possibility that The Tree of Life could turn out to be a folly in the style of, say, Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, but no even half-serious cinema lover could fail to be excited by the prospects thrown up here.

Incidentally, among all the swirling enigmas, we do, at least, get a firm answer to one question. It seems as if the title carries a definite article. It’s The Tree of Life, not Tree of Life. Many more mysteries are still in the ether. Lord alone knows when they’ll be addressed. No firm release date for Ireland has been confirmed. The studio is, however, suggesting that the picture will open in the US on May 27th. Aha! That is, informed readers will note, two days after the end of next year’s Cannes Film Festival. So, for the third year running, the picture is pencilled in for that event.

Then again, it might vanish one more time. What if the Cannes authorities refuse to accept it for the competition? Even the French wouldn’t be that willful. Would they?

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