'The Tree of Life': A Film That Will Change the Way You Look at Life (2022)

‘The Tree of Life’ is a story of a man, Jack O’Brien (Sean Penn), an architect in Houston, reflecting upon his childhood years in Waco, Texas. Aside from the show-stopping “Origins of Universe” sequence in the film’s first act, ‘Tree of Life’ is basically a kaleidoscopic assemblage of Jack’s poetic remembrances and dream-like contemplations about his relationship with his mother, father and brothers when he was young. It’s quite apparent that through ‘Tree of Life’, Malick is opening a window into his own childhood — though he lends a magical quality to his relatable story. But why does he revisits his childhood to seek answers to metaphysical questions about God, life, and death?

'The Tree of Life': A Film That Will Change the Way You Look at Life (1)

(Video) The Tree of Life | Crafting an Existential Masterpiece

As much you grow and progress in life, the foundations and roots of who you are will still remain in your childhood. As we grow older, we keep finding ourselves a mask to hide our real selves — but always go back to our childhood to remind ourselves who we really are. The special attachment that one has with childhood memories may, in fact, be due to their power to bring us back to earth – lest we forget our way in this muddled universe. That might also explain why we cling on to our childhood memories. After all, they, usually, are the safest bets to help find our true selves in case we feel lost.

It is also equally fascinating how much you learn from your childhood memories; you learn about your friends, your parents and more importantly, about yourself. Those learnings may not have happened when you were a child – your impressionable mind lacked the ability to understand everything — but as an adult when you look back at those events of the past, you realize and develop an understanding of why it happened what happened. It is this “learning”, it is this “understanding of oneself” that Jack seeks by going back to his childhood memories when he finds himself struggling to make peace with the loss of his brother and other existential questions about life.

There is an essence and a feeling that you associate with every memory of yours; I am talking about nostalgia. I can’t think of a single film that so effectively captures the feeling of nostalgia the way ‘The Tree of Life’ does. And that’s what is so special about the film. Malick doesn’t just try to capture memories, but the feelings evoked by the act of memory. Memories, in itself, are nearly impossible to depict on film. Most of the time, the version of memories we see in films is not only unrealistic but also far from how actually we visualize our memories as. In actuality, memories are fragmented, fleeting, non-linear, infinite-on-the-edges, sometimes exaggerated, and sometimes poetic. And that’s exactly how Malick treats memories: not as realities, but the imagination of realities.

(Video) The Tree of Life (4/5) Movie CLIP - I'm More Like You Than Her (2011) HD

'The Tree of Life': A Film That Will Change the Way You Look at Life (2)

While his method of capturing memories is skillful and unique, what is even more impressive is the universality that he lends to those memories. As a result, even though ‘The Tree of Life’ is an American film and depicts an American family, every thinking audience will feel that a part of their own memory is being shared with the world. For instance, in one of the scenes, the eldest son, Jack, asks his mother “Who do you love the most ?”. To which his mother replies “I love you all the same”. Haven’t you asked that question to your mother and got a similar response? In another scene, about a year old Jack looks at his month-old younger brother with a sense of wonder but soon realizes the baby is getting all his mother’s attention and therefore, starts throwing stuff with jealousy to win back her attention. Haven’t you done the same when you were young? But the universalities just don’t end there. There is universality in the grace, affection, and protectiveness of Mrs. O’Brien (Jessica Chastain) towards her sons in a way that every mother feels about her children. There is universality in the way Jack and his brothers play, fight, make-up, play, fight, and make-up again in a way that siblings, everywhere, treat each other. There is universality in the love beneath the sternness that Mr. O’Brien (Brad Pitt) has for his sons in a way that every father tries to hide his affection under the guise of toughness.

The first forty minutes of the film are devoted to Malick’s interpretation of God, universe and what it means to be a human. There is full twenty-minutes of an utterly jaw-dropping sequence where using the most magnificent visuals of the galaxy, planets, ocean, microscopic organisms, dinosaurs, and nature, Malick (with his incredible cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki) delves into the origins of the universe and the evolution of humans. Colorful, imaginative, and fantastical, the visuals will leave an unforgettable impression on your mind. Every frame of ‘The Tree of Life’ is so meticulously crafted that you can pause any scene and hang that frame on your wall. Quite possibly, it is the most beautifully shot movie ever. But why did Malick so painstakingly create a twenty-minutes sequence about transcendental elements that hardly has many relations to the story — or so it seems? He certainly seems to have a purpose. Malick, clearly, believes that humans are a product of evolution, and not godly creation — which creates an interesting dichotomy with the climax of the film.

(Video) Lemon Tree - Fools Garden

'The Tree of Life': A Film That Will Change the Way You Look at Life (3)

It must be Malick’s genius that in spite of being an atheist, I found myself completely immersed in the genuinely fascinating vision of God that he shares with us. It is unimportant whether I agree or disagree with his vision, but I will gladly confess to being evoked and mesmerized by it — and irrespective of your own faith or beliefs, you will be too. It is easy to interpret – or misinterpret – the existence and power of God as per one’s convenience. That convenience often manifests into a skewered opinion or belief, which can quickly become blind faith. As an atheist, I am not exposed to the risk of being guided by blind faith. And even though, unlike me, Malick is a believer, and shares more of a utopian vision of God, he certainly is not the one who believes in or is guided by blind faith either.

There are instances in the film where the characters question God and His “choices”. Malick’s inquisitiveness to seek answers from God starts from the opening line of the film itself: “Brother…mother…it was they who led me to your door”. And that desire to know continues throughout the passage of the film. In one of the early scenes, Mrs. O’Brien, who has just lost her middle son, asks: “Lord, Why? Where were you? Did you know what happened? Do you care?”. In another scene, Mr. O’Brien wonders “What was his fault ?”. Young Jack questions the purpose and methods of God several times in the film. When he witnesses the death of a young boy who drowns he questions “Where were You? You let a boy die. You let anything happen. Why should I be good ? When You aren’t.”

(Video) Fools Garden - Lemon Tree (Official Video)

While Malick never questions the existence of God itself, his real sense of wonderment doesn’t arise out of it; rather he rejoices in the magic that life itself is. In an era where God has become a means to prove superiority and an excuse to harm and even kill, ‘The Tree of Life” presents a beautiful, yet a reasonable way of looking at God.

'The Tree of Life': A Film That Will Change the Way You Look at Life (4)

The climax of the film may leave many befuddled. Though, if you look closely, the ending of the film is an extension of Malick’s optimistic and utopian view of the world and our place in it. In a way, he tries to bring closure to Jack’s inquisitiveness about his own existence and the working of God in his life. Jack, after going through the spiritual journey, realizes that the ending that he perceives to be the end is not actually the end, but a doorway to a more beautiful world where he can reunite with those who he had lost. Malick might also be trying to address human mortality here, and how an end to life doesn’t mean an end to a soul.

(Video) How to Watch Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life"

All said and done, ‘The Tree of Life’ is a cinematic poem of extraordinary scope and ambition. It doesn’t just ask its audience to observe, but also, reflect and feel. At its simplest, ‘The Tree of Life’ is a story of the journey of finding oneself. At its most complex, it is a meditation on human life and our place in the grand scheme of things. In the end, ‘The Tree of Life’ might change the way you look at life (It changed me). How many films have the power to do that?

Read More: 50 Greatest Movies of the 21st Century

(Video) THE TREE OF LIFE - Emmanuel Lubezki Cinematography: Finding Beauty Through Patience

FAQs

What is the message of The Tree of Life movie? ›

The film explores the deepest questions about the origins of life and the creation of the universe, but it's also centered on an intimate coming-of-age story of a young boy's defining childhood influences.

How movies can change your life? ›

Meaningful films were also more likely to help viewers accept the human condition, researchers said. Participants recalling the meaningful films were also more likely to say the movie motivated them to be a better person, do good things for other people and seek what really matters in life.

What movie has The Tree of Life? ›

In December 2019, The Tree of Life topped The Associated Press' list of the best films of the 2010s.
...
The Tree of Life (film)
The Tree of Life
Written byTerrence Malick
Produced bySarah Green Bill Pohlad Brad Pitt Dede Gardner Grant Hill
StarringBrad Pitt Sean Penn Jessica Chastain
CinematographyEmmanuel Lubezki
12 more rows

What does the ending of tree of life mean? ›

What significance does the ending of The Tree of Life have for Jack O'Brien. Fox Searchlight Pictures. In the film, Jack appears to have been journeying to this place for a long time, which along with the other clues, suggests that it's some kind of afterlife, or perhaps the border between life and death.

What was the purpose of The Tree of Life? ›

The new tree of life (and the rivers flowing from the throne of God) certainly mirrors the original tree in the garden of Eden, providing hope of sustained life with Yahweh. In this way, the tree both recalls the garden story and also provides an expectation of future hope.

What is the meaning of tree of life? ›

Individuality: The Tree of Life symbolizes one's individuality as trees are all unique with their branches sprouting at different points and in different directions. It symbolizes a person's personal growth into a unique human being as different experiences shape them into who they are.

Why movies are important in our life? ›

Films encourage us to take action. Our favourite characters, superheroes, teach us life lessons. They give us ideas and inspiration to do everything for the better instead of just sitting around, waiting for things to go their way.

Which movie has influenced your life the most? ›

5 Movies That Will Have A Profound Impact On Your Life
  1. The Godfather. “Friendship is everything. ...
  2. The Shawshank Redemption. “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” – Andy Dufresne. ...
  3. Life of Pi. ...
  4. The Pursuit of Happyness. ...
  5. Mr.

Which is the best life changing movies? ›

22 Most Inspirational Movies
  • #1. A Beautiful Mind (2001) 74% #1. ...
  • #2. Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019) 88% #2. ...
  • #3. The Bucket List (2007) 41% #3. ...
  • #4. Chariots of Fire (1981) 83% #4. ...
  • #5. Chef (2014) 87% #5. ...
  • #6. Forrest Gump (1994) 71% #6. ...
  • #7. Good Will Hunting (1997) 96% #7. ...
  • #8. Groundhog Day (1993) 97% #8.

What tree is known as The Tree of Life? ›

The common name, Lignum vitae (tree of life or wood of life), comes from its historic medicinal use as a remedy for conditions from arthritis to coughs to syphilis.

What is The Tree of Life Quotes? ›

The Tree of Life Quotes
  • “Help each other. Love everyone. ...
  • “And love is smiling through all things.” ― Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life. ...
  • “I will be true to you. Whatever comes.” ...
  • “Toscanini once recorded a piece sixty five times. ...
  • “The nuns taught us there were two ways through life - the way of nature and the way of grace.

Is there a real tree of life? ›

The Tree of Life is not a real tree, but a sculpture of the baobab tree, sometimes called an “upside-down tree” due to the way the branches mimic roots. The sculpture took quite a bit of time and work to complete—three Imagineers and 10 artists worked full-time on the design of the tree for 18 months.

Why do people not like The Tree of Life? ›

Some of the film's non-narrative sequences likely drag on too long, losing audience's attention. Only about 20 minutes into the film, a 15 minute-long sequence depicting the creation of the Earth, the birth of life, and the development of consciousness is rendered largely with liquids, colors, lights, and water.

Who is the protagonist in The Tree of Life? ›

Terrence Malick's film The Tree of Life follows the protagonist Jack O'Brien (Hunter McCracken) as he grows up in the 1950s. He lives in Waco, Texas with his parents and two younger brothers.

Where does the Bible talk about The Tree of Life? ›

In the Bible outside of Genesis, the term "tree of life" appears in Proverbs (3:18; 11:30; 13:12; 15:4) and Revelation (2:7; 22:2,14,19). It also appears in 2 Esdras (2:12; 8:52) and 4 Maccabees (18:16), which are included among the Jewish apocrypha.

Why is it called the Tree of Life? ›

The Coconut tree (scientific name: Cocos Nucifera) is called the “Tree of Life” because all the parts of the entire tree–from top to bottom–are used to sustain human life. It must be the most useful tree in the world, bar none.

Where is the tree of life today? ›

The Tree of Life (Shajarat-al-Hayat) in Bahrain is a 9.75 meters (32 feet) high Prosopis cineraria tree that is over 400 years old. It is on a hill in a barren area of the Arabian Desert, 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from Jebel Dukhan, the highest point in Bahrain, and 40 kilometers from Manama.

What does the tree of the knowledge of good and evil symbolize? ›

In Jewish tradition, the Tree of Knowledge and the eating of its fruit represents the beginning of the mixture of good and evil together. Before that time, the two were separate, and evil had only a nebulous existence in potential.

How does a tree relate to you and your life? ›

Trees and people have an interdependent relationship. One example is we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Trees, on the other hand, take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere. The role trees play in the ecosystem is vital for human and other life on earth.

What does life symbol mean? ›

The ankh or key of life is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol used in Egyptian art and writing to represent the word for "life" and, by extension, as a symbol of life itself.

What is the Tree of Life made out of? ›

The tree features over 100,000 thermoplastic kynar leaves. At the structure's interior base is a 428-seat theater that hosts It's Tough to Be a Bug!, a 3-D film attraction based on the 1998 Disney/Pixar film A Bug's Life. There is also a secret path that park goers can walk up to take a close look at the sculpture.

What can films teach us? ›

Movies teach us all sorts of things: how to aspire, who to fantasize about (all those princes will come), how to smoke, dress, walk into a room (always like Bette Davis). They teach us who to love and how, as well as the ostensible necessity of sacrificing love along with careers.

How movies affect our emotions? ›

Even dramatic or tragic movies could spark an emotional response. Similar to laughter, crying could activate the release of endorphins, according to a 2016 study. Dramatic movies could increase feelings of gratitude and reduce feelings of isolation.

How does film affect us? ›

Film can be used to reach a wide audience, to inform and inspire change through engaging audiences and reflecting society. Social film drama unites people in a common sense of humanity and shared responsibility, which gives it added power to help foster positive change.

What is the most important film ever made? ›

It's no surprise that "The Wizard of Oz," starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, was named as the most influential movie of all time. After all, it was one of the first 25 movies to be put on the National Film Registry, according to History.

Who has influenced you the most how? ›

A Family Member—For most of us, parents and siblings have a huge impact on our lives. Answering with a family member is fairly predictable but also perfectly appropriate. Just make sure you can articulate the specific ways in which the family member influenced you.

How do movies inspire you? ›

Movies make us think. They make us compassionate, help us understand others' struggles, and they help put various situations into perspective. They can also be wonderful muses for someone that needs a dose of motivation.

Can watching movies change your personality? ›

Studies suggest that watching movies can increase our emotional intelligence and also help in improving social connectivity. A study conducted by psychologists at Oklahoma University studied the relation between fictional drama and emotions. For the purpose of the study, the subjects were divided into two groups.

What is the most meaningful movie? ›

Best most Meaningful/thought provoking/amazing/Inspirational movies ever!
  • Good Will Hunting (1997) R | 126 min | Drama, Romance. ...
  • Slumdog Millionaire (2008) ...
  • August Rush (2007) ...
  • 50 First Dates (2004) ...
  • The Shawshank Redemption (1994) ...
  • My Sister's Keeper (2009) ...
  • The Life of David Gale (2003) ...
  • In Her Skin (2009)

What are the benefits of tree of life? ›

The leaves are used as dressing of rheumatic joints and to treat coughs, asthma, leprosy, travel nausea and eye problems, and to get rid of intestinal parasites. The young leaves and fruit are used for pains, including headaches and colic.

How is the tree of life organized? ›

The branches of the tree of life are formed from different groups of organisms. Two branches that are close to each other contain closely related organisms. The first and largest branches from the tree of life are formed by three domains. The branches of each domain split into many more branches.

What does a tree represent spiritually? ›

The ancient symbol of the Tree has been found to represent physical and spiritual nourishment, transformation and liberation, union and fertility. Often seen as a symbol of femininity due to its long branches and flowing leaves, the trunk is seen as masculine.

What inspiration we get from trees? ›

Trees and the Soul

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” “Trees give peace to the souls of men.” “If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees.” “To be without trees would, in the most literal way, to be without our roots.”

How trees spread happiness in our life? ›

After all, trees are important to our lives in many ways. The most obvious is their role in producing the oxygen we breathe and sequestering carbon dioxide to help protect our atmosphere; but science suggests trees provide other important benefits, too.

What does the real Tree of Life look like? ›

The color of the tree is described as resembling the Sun, its branches are beautiful, its leaves are similar to that of cypress, and its fruit is like clusters of white grapes. However, in the Secret Book of John, the Tree of Life is portrayed negatively.

Who is the Tree of Life in the Bible? ›

Jesus said that God's heavenly presence was arriving on Earth through him and his mission. And he often likened this to a huge tree, growing and spreading in surprising ways (Matthew 13:31-32). Jesus even claimed to be a tree of life, a vine that offers God's life to the world (John 15).

What did Charles Darwin mean when he talked about the tree of life? ›

Darwin argued successfully that the tree of life was a fact of nature, plain for all to see though in need of explanation. The explanation he came up with was … evolution by natural selection. Ever since Darwin the tree has been the unifying principle for understanding the history of life on Earth.

Is the tree of life worth watching? ›

Audience Reviews for The Tree of Life

A cinematic mistake and mess in every conceivable way, The Tree of Life is only worth watching for it's stunning visuals. Everything else is incoherent, lacks focus, or just feels overly complicated to point of comedy.

Where is the tree of knowledge? ›

In the small southern Iraqi city of Qurna, an unusual shrine stands on the shore of the Tigris: a small, dead tree, protected by low brick walls and surrounded by a concrete plaza. This tree is, according to local legend, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the one that Eve ate from in the Garden of Eden.

What is the moral of The Tree of Life? ›

The moral of the story is not to be boastful, because at any moment, your world could be turned upside down. The tree is a symbol- a continual reminder to keep your head down and keep moving forward.

Is The Tree of Life film religious? ›

The film opens with a quote from the book of Job, and its characters frequently speak to God. All evidence points towards The Tree of Life being a religious film in the sense that it draws heavily on religious influences to tell its story. Yet it doesn't push a specific religious message.

How long is tree of life? ›

This 8-minute, 3D movie and multimedia show stars Flik and Hopper from the Disney and Pixar film A Bug's Life—along with a supporting cast of insects who provide a surprising glimpse inside their bug-eat-bug world.

What does a tree symbolize in the Bible? ›

Trees are in the paradise of God. In Revelation 22, we learn that the tree of life bears fruit crops 12 times a year, and its leaves are for the healing of the nations. There are many trees with healing powers at our disposal now, which is a sign of God's provision for us.

What is the biblical meaning of life? ›

This is the Hebrew word usually translated living being in Genesis but also as life, soul or with breath. Things created with nephesh are some animals and humans. Nowhere are plants, bacteria or fungi ever referred to as having nephesh. Life is also described as being “in the blood” or the “flesh”, or having “breath”.

How is wisdom like a tree? ›

She (wisdom) is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise.

Is The Tree of Life film religious? ›

The film opens with a quote from the book of Job, and its characters frequently speak to God. All evidence points towards The Tree of Life being a religious film in the sense that it draws heavily on religious influences to tell its story. Yet it doesn't push a specific religious message.

Why do people not like The Tree of Life? ›

Some of the film's non-narrative sequences likely drag on too long, losing audience's attention. Only about 20 minutes into the film, a 15 minute-long sequence depicting the creation of the Earth, the birth of life, and the development of consciousness is rendered largely with liquids, colors, lights, and water.

Where does the Bible talk about The Tree of Life? ›

In the Bible outside of Genesis, the term "tree of life" appears in Proverbs (3:18; 11:30; 13:12; 15:4) and Revelation (2:7; 22:2,14,19). It also appears in 2 Esdras (2:12; 8:52) and 4 Maccabees (18:16), which are included among the Jewish apocrypha.

Who is the protagonist in The Tree of Life? ›

Terrence Malick's film The Tree of Life follows the protagonist Jack O'Brien (Hunter McCracken) as he grows up in the 1950s. He lives in Waco, Texas with his parents and two younger brothers.

Is tree of life appropriate? ›

Age Appropriate for: 15+; there's no graphic or explicit violence or sexual content, but some implied sexual desire and some angry family angst scenes.

Why is it called the Tree of Life? ›

The Coconut tree (scientific name: Cocos Nucifera) is called the “Tree of Life” because all the parts of the entire tree–from top to bottom–are used to sustain human life. It must be the most useful tree in the world, bar none.

What kind of tree was the tree of life? ›

Amid growing concerns about climate change affecting indigenous lands, the baobab is likely to resist the warming of the earth. It grows in hot, arid climates and is also known as the bottle tree, or the tree of life, for its ability to store up to 1,200 gallons of water in its trunk.

Where is the tree of life today? ›

The Tree of Life (Shajarat-al-Hayat) in Bahrain is a 9.75 meters (32 feet) high Prosopis cineraria tree that is over 400 years old. It is on a hill in a barren area of the Arabian Desert, 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from Jebel Dukhan, the highest point in Bahrain, and 40 kilometers from Manama.

What does a tree symbolize in the Bible? ›

Trees are in the paradise of God. In Revelation 22, we learn that the tree of life bears fruit crops 12 times a year, and its leaves are for the healing of the nations. There are many trees with healing powers at our disposal now, which is a sign of God's provision for us.

What is the Tree of Life Quotes? ›

The Tree of Life Quotes
  • “Help each other. Love everyone. ...
  • “And love is smiling through all things.” ― Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life. ...
  • “I will be true to you. Whatever comes.” ...
  • “Toscanini once recorded a piece sixty five times. ...
  • “The nuns taught us there were two ways through life - the way of nature and the way of grace.

What is the biblical meaning of life? ›

This is the Hebrew word usually translated living being in Genesis but also as life, soul or with breath. Things created with nephesh are some animals and humans. Nowhere are plants, bacteria or fungi ever referred to as having nephesh. Life is also described as being “in the blood” or the “flesh”, or having “breath”.

Is Jesus The Tree of Life? ›

Jesus even claimed to be a tree of life, a vine that offers God's life to the world (John 15). But in a sad inversion, the leaders of Abraham's family kill Jesus on what they think is a tree of death. But because of God's love, which is stronger than human evil, God transformed the cross into a tree of life.

How is The Tree of Life organized? ›

The branches of the tree of life are formed from different groups of organisms. Two branches that are close to each other contain closely related organisms. The first and largest branches from the tree of life are formed by three domains. The branches of each domain split into many more branches.

How long is tree of life? ›

This 8-minute, 3D movie and multimedia show stars Flik and Hopper from the Disney and Pixar film A Bug's Life—along with a supporting cast of insects who provide a surprising glimpse inside their bug-eat-bug world.

Videos

1. THE TREE OF LIFE - Emmanuel Lubezki Cinematography: Finding Beauty Through Patience
(Cinema Labyrinthine)
2. Terrence Malick: The Tree of Life - The Directors Series
(Indie Film Hustle)
3. THE TREE OF LIFE Featurette: Visual Effects legend Doug Trumbull
(SearchlightPictures)
4. Lemon Tree - Fools Garden (Lyrics)
(Rachel Gardner)
5. Neelix feat The Gardener & The Tree - Waterfall (Official Music Video)
(SpinTwistRecords)
6. Day In The Life of a Luthier / Guitarmaker
(Daisy Tempest)

Top Articles

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Greg Kuvalis

Last Updated: 11/02/2022

Views: 5815

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (55 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Greg Kuvalis

Birthday: 1996-12-20

Address: 53157 Trantow Inlet, Townemouth, FL 92564-0267

Phone: +68218650356656

Job: IT Representative

Hobby: Knitting, Amateur radio, Skiing, Running, Mountain biking, Slacklining, Electronics

Introduction: My name is Greg Kuvalis, I am a witty, spotless, beautiful, charming, delightful, thankful, beautiful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.