Terrance Malick’s The Tree of Life knocks a hole in the walls of reality by bringing poetry to the silver screen with hypnotizing cinematography & sublime performances by Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn, Hunter McCracken, Tye Sheridan, & more! This is The Universal Theme with Keagen Fritz

Written by: Keagen Fritz – August 31st, 2020 4:51 pm pst

 Still – Will you walk through the door?  

Still – Will you walk through the door?

Poetry can capture a truth that lies beyond the reach of reason.  In fact, a good piece of poetry, or any art really, is like knocking a hole in the walls of reality to find a place you didn’t know existed.  It breaks us from feeling trapped within our consciousness by transcending life’s shackles and returning us to the core place where we all started from– The place our soul resides.  Only here can we reflect on what it truly means to be alive and human, which is why artists have relied on the poetic vehicle to deliver universal wisdom around the globe and across history.

Still – Across time and space

The Tree of Life is a cinematic translation of this wisdom poetry style as it provides a proper setting to look back inside your head with your eyes wide open.  Terrance Malick pulls from his life and ancient teachings, like the book of Job and many others, to provide insight into the human experience for all who watch.  This is a film to be engaged within the same way you’d engage a collection of poems.  Terrance Malick asks you to meditate on the film’s ideas in real-time but also long after the credits roll as the themes continue to burrow deeper into the psyche.      

Still – The forming of the first signs of life

Malick’s decision to create a film in this manner was a divisive one, as it requires complete and total abandonment of traditional narrative structure in exchange for subjective impressionism.  Usually, in movies, narrative is the backbone, and meaning is extrapolated from it.  But here, the narrative is a purposely broken thin line, and the meaning you draw from the film’s events form your own subjective structure for it.  It’s like getting dropped in the real messiness of a human soul and interacting with the world through that lens.  Those who dismiss this way of viewing may find themselves at a frustrating loss with The Tree of Life, but those who are willing to adjust their approach to this impressionistic film will be significantly rewarded.

Still – Scenes feel like authentic memories

On a technical level, there are bountiful rewards to be found in such visually fluid and satisfying cinematography.  Hypnotizing camerawork pulls you in on a string with consistent tug deeper into this impressionistic opus.  The breathtaking space sequences create the feeling that we ourselves are reaching to the edges of the universe, building the grandeur further.  

Still – The galaxy on its side.

The section of the film that takes place in the 50s feels the most like watching actual human memory, as it’s filmed in a dreamlike that fits best in the subconscious.  Images flash by in a blurring stream of consciousness.  We jump from memory to memory with the familiar subjective haze we experience when we recall our own deep-seated memories.  Sound is also handled with precision as we encounter a wave-like sensation as the score sweeps low and deep before rising to magnificent peaks with each movement of poetic wisdom crashing onto us.

Still – Even the small moments feel surreal

The Tree of Life is truly a poetic flipbook of life, and your choice of either submitting to the unique flow of the film or clinging to the desire for traditional narrative footholds will determine how much you get out of your viewing.  Just as you’d never demand a poet to clear things up for fear of spoiling the magic, don’t make the same mistake here. Instead, leave your expectations and standards at the door.  Let The Tree of Life kick a hole in your reality’s wall and give yourself the courage to step through to the other side.  Feed your soul by reaching deep into yourself as you construct what this film means to you.  I guarantee you’ll learn something new about yourself.

Still – The Tree of Life

You can rent The Tree of Life on Amazon Prime and iTunes.    

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About The Author:

Keagen Fritz is a screenwriting and production major at California State University Fullerton with growing industry experience looking to make a living off the written word.  He currently writes for AfterBuzz TV and has his own series “The Universal Truth” where he dives into art to pull out messages that could relate to anyone.    

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