The Tree of Life (film)

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Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation ... while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

The Tree of Life is a 2011 American drama with experimental presentation elements written and directed by Terrence Malick and starring Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain. It chronicles the origins and meaning of life by way of a middle-aged man's childhood memories of his family living in 1950s Texas, interspersed with imagery of the origins of the universe, the inception of life on Earth, and visions of an afterlife.

Opening placard[edit]

He was in God's hands the whole time. Wasn't he?
  • Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation ... while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Job 38:4, 7


I will be true to you. Whatever comes.

Mrs. Obrien[edit]

  • The nuns taught us there are two ways through lifethe way of Nature… and the way of Grace. You have to choose which one you'll follow.
    Grace doesn't try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries.
    Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy... when all the world is shining around it... when love is smiling through all things.
    They taught us that no one who loves the way of grace... ever comes to a bad end.
    I will be true to You. Whatever comes.
  • My hope.
    My God.
    What did you gain?
    • After the death of her son

Mr. Obrien[edit]

  • Okay, go on now. We're all right. We're all right.
    • To mourners, after the funeral for his son.


Mrs. Obrien: I just want to die... to be with him.
Preacher: He's in God's hands now.
Mrs. Obrien: He was in God's hands the whole time. Wasn't he?

Quotes about The Tree of Life[edit]

  • Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life is a film of vast ambition and deep humility, attempting no less than to encompass all of existence and view it through the prism of a few infinitesimal lives. The only other film I've seen with this boldness of vision is Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, and it lacked Malick's fierce evocation of human feeling. … I don't know when a film has connected more immediately with my own personal experience. In uncanny ways, the central events of The Tree of Life reflect a time and place I lived in, and the boys in it are me. If I set out to make an autobiographical film, and if I had Malick's gift, it would look so much like this. … There is a father who maintains discipline and a mother who exudes forgiveness, and long summer days of play and idleness and urgent unsaid questions about the meaning of things. … The film's portrait of everyday life, inspired by Malick's memories of his hometown of Waco, Texas, is bounded by two immensities, one of space and time, and the other of spirituality. The Tree of Life has awe-inspiring visuals suggesting the birth and expansion of the universe, the appearance of life on a microscopic level and the evolution of species. This process leads to the present moment, and to all of us. We were created in the Big Bang and over untold millions of years, molecules formed themselves into, well, you and me.
    And what comes after? In whispered words near the beginning, "nature" and "grace" are heard. … The film's coda provides a vision of an afterlife, a desolate landscape on which quiet people solemnly recognize and greet one another, and all is understood in the fullness of time.

External links[edit]

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