Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Where is The Tree of Life (Pt 156)?

Where indeed? There is a hilarious irony at work here. For (literally) years we wondered when Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life would get released. It seemed a remote possibility in 2009. It seemed a stronger one in 2010. Then, …

Wed, May 25, 2011, 22:17

   

Where indeed? There is a hilarious irony at work here. For (literally) years we wondered when Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life would get released. It seemed a remote possibility in 2009. It seemed a stronger one in 2010. Then, earlier this month, the film arrived at Cannes and even managed to win the Palme d’Or. On Friday it emerges in the US and in certain European territories. But Irish and Britain cinema will remain uncontaminated by Mr Malick’s film for a while yet.

Readers of Screenwriter will know the weird story about Icon Entertainment trying to release the thing early, getting slapped down by Summit Pictures, the US producers, and then kicking the picture into long grass (gorgeous shots of which are accompanied by breathy quasi-poetic ramblings from Brad Pitt and Sean Penn). “Things have changed in the past few hours,” a spokesman for Icon said back in April. “We now won’t be releasing The Tree of Life on 4 May and currently have no release plans for the film. All enquiries should be referred to Summit.”

So when will the plain people of Ireland get to see it? It really is impossible to say. Rumours abound but — being in thrall to libel police — we are allowed to repeat none of them. Do a trawl on the internet and you will be amazed by the lack of information out there. No further response comes from Icon. It seems that the release is now the subject of some sort (can we say this?) of legal wrangling, but such debates are being carried out very much in camera.

The positive reviews (though I was equivocal) and the triumph with the Cannes jury have, surely, changed the game somewhat. A film that once looked like a very rarified pleasure is now certain to take in decent — if not spectacular — coin at the world’s box-office. So, somebody will surely be releasing in within the next month or so.

Weird, weird, weird.

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