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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

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.”