Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Preparing for Malick's new film
After reading some initial reactions to early screenings of Terrence Malick's long-awaited upcoming "Tree of Life," it dawned on me that this will probably be the most high profile Terrence Malick release since "Thin Red Line" and I don't remember what that was like... at all. Plus, since then Malick has only grown in stature as a filmmaker and his four films (Badlands, Days of Heaven, Thin Red Line, and The New World) are all considered masterpieces in their own rights (The New World not as much, but it has plenty of proponents, including me).
I watched all of Malick's films at some point while I was in college so I was far enough removed from initial reactions that I can discover his films and share my enjoyment with other fans. Considering, however, that The Tree of Life will be starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, that undoubtedly means that Terrence Malick will be reaching a whole new audience; a modern audience that is most definitely not ready to experience what Terrence Malick is going to give them. And, from what I've been gathering, the reactions will be all over the board. Critics may love it but audiences will most likely not embrace it. Ok, there's about a 75% chance they won't. This will be another Malick film that is met with general audience confusion, at first, but earns praise and gains respect as the years go on. The only difference is that this will be the first time that newer Malick fans will be making the same initial reactions. Sure, we made our own judgments when we saw his other films for the first time, but chances are, unless your friends are all Malick fans or unless you go see the film yourself, you're either going to prepare to defend your love for the movie or you may be swayed into thinking what your friends think about the film. Either way, I expect there to be a lot of fuss surrounding this movie for months to come and we can only hope that its May release and inevitable October/November DVD and Blu-Ray release will help the film earn more appreciation.
Because Malick fans all know that it takes more than one viewing to fully grasp and fall in love with his film. Malick fans are familiar with his visual poetic style, his dream-like narrations, and his striking imagery. We will come into The Tree of Life with considerably different expectations than people who are merely interested in seeing a Brad Pitt-starring film. Perhaps, however, we should have no expectations and just let Terrence Malick blow us away with the visuals. Personally, I will be focusing on the visuals the first time I see the film. I know for a fact that I won't be able to grasp the whole thing on the first viewing so I will see The Tree of Life on the big screen for the visuals because that's what I've always looked forward to about watching a Malick film on the big screen.
So those who aren't familiar with Malick or are just curious, either watch his other four films right now or come into The Tree of Life with no expectations at all. Just let Malick do his magic for 2 hours and 18 minutes, let it wash over you, think about it, then come back to me. Don't expect me, however, to try to tell you what it all means... because I'm sure I won't know the answers.