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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Matthew Wade sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his new CD, “Diamond from Coal,” his fourth album with his band, My Silent Bravery.