Saturday, July 07, 2012

Reflections on "The Tree of Life"

We rented the film "The Tree of Life" from HBO last week and STILL have not erased it because we love it so much. When so many films are cookie-cutter adaptations of ingredients that work to make oodles of bucks this film was unique and took chances most do not. Brad Pitt, I believe, is one of our country's national treasures. His excellence in film is matched by his excellence in life.

The film grapples with the eternal questions of man. I do not know if The Tree of Life solves what is for me unsolvable but at least it makes an attempt at differentiating the science surrounding the facts we know about the etiology of the earth with the yearning of man to still ask the eternal why of his suffering.

It is about the Biblical Book of Job in that it is about suffering in the face of the perfect creation of earth. It is about the majesty of the earth's construct and the less-than-perfect man within it. The cinematography is gorgeous and the sound magnificent using many classical works to emphasize the grandeur of life that simply is.

I loved the complexity of the relationships and the ambivalence of the mother toward the father, the grief they both endure and how they endure it. Pitt's relationship with his sons was profound, angry, loving, loathing and deep.

We keep playing and replying this film to see, hear, and watch the beauty of the anthropological formation of earth and those in it who crave answers to their suffering juxtaposed against the beauty that is existence. We are a division between earth's scientific creations and within it the etiology of man with his frailties.

One scene depicting early earth and the age of dinosaurs showed one dinosaur's victory over another. It keeps its talons on the subjugated beast wondering, it seems, whether to kill it or not. It does not. Was this some nascent element, albeit minuscule, of altruism compelling the victorious dinosaur not to eat his spoils as he, unexpectedly, lifts up his talons off the defeated one and walks away? Who knows? One can only speculate.

Who are we, where did we come from and most importantly why? We live with the grandeur of the earth's beauty and alternatively the suffering ugliness it sometimes visits upon us. We live in its uncomfortable harmony as the two are inexorably and inextricably linked yet a separate part of man's existence. This film attempts to reflect on the eternal questions that have plagued human existence since the beginning and probably will never be sufficiently answered even at the end of it all.