Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tree of Life (...that any given thing could reveal...)

"...that any given thing on the face of the earth could reveal the history of all things. One could open a book to any page, or look at a person's hand; one could turn a card, or watch the flight of birds. . . . whatever the thing observed, one could find a connection with his experience of the moment. Actually, it wasn't that those things, in themselves, revealed anything at all; it was just that people, looking at what was occurring around them, could find a means of penetration to the Soul of the World." (Alchemist, p.106)

I admit feeling subconscious quoting a book that's so heavy on God as a guide or mysitcal helper of some kind --in connection to a film I see as being so heavy on questioning (if not, repudiating or even defying) God. Ah well...

The Tree of Life affected me, -as I'm sure it affected anyone who saw it (or at least sat through it). For me, likely similar to at least half of you and (opposed to the other half of you), it hit me in a very good way.

Or, maybe I should say, a positively disturbing way. Not Lynch disturbing, not Japanese horror disturbing. More like disturbing (or redistributing) grains of contemplative sand or rustling up the buzzy bees of my brain.

It was, for me, an achingly private or personal experience. I don't even feel I should be recommending it because I like it for my own, hyper-subjective, reasons. I'm not sure if I even connected, (in a traditional filmgoer's sense) with the characters on the screen so much as I connected with the collective experience of human kind.

Right, it's just that kind of a heady movie. This was, originally, going to be a movie about the universe, not about a mid-20th century family in middle-class/middle-America's sleepy suburbs.

I enjoyed how episodic it felt. The jittery cutz, swinging pans and patient tracking shots. It was detached in such a way where you felt you, yourself, were having an out-of-body experience, where the laws of physics melded into the chaos of dreams.

The scope of this film, with its staggering montage on the history of the universe, and the birth of the Earth, made me feel nauteously small, fleeting... in a good way, or at least a way that makes one appreciate the air one breaths when one leaves a theatre in the middle of a summer's day.

I'm quite glad I saw it in a dark theatre, front to back, settling in for it's duration like it was a plane flight with a locked door and a pressurized cabin.

The only downside is, like any flight, there's a whiny baby on it that kicks your seat.

I know Brad Pitt's in it, I know Sean Penn is in it, and I know that the studio wants to lure you into this film by deceptive trailers that paint a very Academy-Award-friendly illusion of a coming-of-age-period-piece of Americana pie...

But, I really don't think much of the mainstream can appreciate this film, (pardon my zealousness)...at least not in the way I did...

In an invigoratingly haunting way, I felt as though I drifted, perceptively, from the film screening live in front from me, and started letting my mind muse over my own life, my own experience, my own view of things and my own memories...

And yet, to still be able to see myself in the rough-housing/naive boys on the screen, startlingly spliced with shots of primordial ooze and supernovas.

It's just wrenching in a way, because I feel how much we've grown away from old fashioned theatre conduct. People chatted as the Big Bang exploded in front of us, or they hmphed out confused noises when they saw a dinosaur...When the screen faded to the credits during my first screening of this film, a baby-boomer-sounding male half-groans in relief and says: "...finally."

Thanks Facebook, I really miss society's inner monologue!

That said - I thought this was a beautiful, and yes, challenging film. In fact, that it even had the courtesy to challenge me, is what I appreciated most.

Or maybe it was what I saw inside of it... The history of me, the history of you, the history of all thought, of all life... Even in the images of the family, the car they drove, or the grass on their lawn. I saw so many things...

Which is what made my current reading of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist that much more stimulating, particularly the passage that opened this post^

I'd like to talk more about it... What'd you think?

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