News / Arts & Entertainment

Award-Winning Film Explores Meaning of Life

'The Tree of Life' starring Brad Pitt won the top prize at the recent Cannes Film Festival

Award-Winning Film Explores Meaning of Life
Award-Winning Film Explores Meaning of Life

Multimedia

Penelope Poulou

Filmmaker Terrence Malick is not prolific. His five feature films span four decades. But each is masterful and has met with acclaim. His latest, The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain, recently received the Palme D'Or (top prize) at the Cannes Film Festival. Malick is known for his powerful visuals, spare dialogue and spiritual themes.

The Tree of Life is about the quest to find balance between one's spiritual self and human nature.

Filmmaker Terrence Malick, a former professor of philosophy, presents this innate struggle through characters in a suburban American household of the 1950s. The father is proud and oppressive. He struggles inwardly because he has not succeeded in the world. Because of his feelings of inadequacy, he tries to mold his sons to his ideal.

Jack is still a boy, but he carries the world on his shoulders. He admires his father but also resents him.

For Malick, the struggle between father and son reflects both the cruelty and beauty of nature. In a twenty minute sequence, the director offers shots of the universe at work, an awesome struggle among natural forces.

But there is also grace, kindness and altruism. The mother in the story, played by Jessica Chastain, embodies them.

The boy grows up to be a successful, but also conflicted man played by Sean Penn. He struggles as he deals with the loss of his younger brother and the loss of innocence.

Brad Pitt's performance is a tour de force. At the Cannes Film Festival, he spoke of the film's spiritual message.  

"And then there is the bigger questions of the impermanence of life that I think we all go through," said Pitt.  "I grew up being told that God's going to take care of everything and it doesn't always work out that way, and when it doesn't work out that way then we're told it's God's will. Many people find religion to be something very inspiring and leads them to opportunities. I myself find it very stifling."

Religion aside, the film is a treatise on the meaning of life. Its extraordinary visuals, minimal dialogue and meditative music have a subliminal impact on the viewer and allow the audience to search and come to its own conclusion.

Some critics have spoken against the film's drawn-out sequences on the evolution of the universe. But Tree of Life won the Palme D'Or at Cannes for good reason.  It offers daring cinematography and an excellent cast.  And although it carries Terrence Malick's signature, it's ulike anything we've seen before.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”