The impressionistic story of a Texas family in the 1950s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). Jack (played as an adult by Sean Penn) finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith. Written by
The town of Smithville, Texas was chosen because the practical structure houses still mirror the '50s settings required by the film. It is one hour's drive from Austin, Texas with a population of only 4500 people. While the crew was filming there, there was no additional lighting equipment being used and camera equipment was stored at a rented garage. See more »
When Mr. O'Brien receives the terrible news at the beginning of the movie by phone, the camera and camera operator are reflected in the handset. See more »
[in a whisper]
Brother. Mother. It was they who led me to your door.
[choir singing dirge]
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How do you watch such a film? You've got to lower any defenses you have. You've got to not allow yourself to try to make a sense out of everything you see. You've got to take it all, and let it enter you, just as smoothly as the film enters dinosaurs, cells, planetary evolution, or a simple living room of a troubled family. Make no judgements, consider nothing except the pure experience of being there, wherever the film takes you. Search no explanation, for there was no real rational reason other than intuition for images to be as they are.
Imagine a film about everything, with a remote storyline that talks about every theme, in every possible time of the world.
Imagine a film without a beginning or an ending. Circular meta-narratives, where you can pick up on any spot (i mean any) and you can create whatever inner narrative you want. A sky of images (like the mosaic poster of the film) where you can pick your own choices, and create whatever story you like. Or you can choose to frame the more palpable story visible in the film in whatever fashion you want. Up to you. The challenge is that you have to test the limits of your own imagination to live the film in its full extent. Nothing is predefined. Go wherever you want.
Now imagine all that delivered by someone who spent his entire film life trying to walk around the idea of plain old narrative layering. The absolute master of unrelated narratives, of off-screen details. The man who films hands and corn fields when he wants to say love; Who shoots the universe to build one of the most powerful expressions of intimacy, of mind's solitude in the film world. Contrast.
I don't know if this is the best film ever made. It probably is the strongest experience in film world that i got first hand, while it was coming out, new.
What is it? a film inside Sean Penn's head? a Story framed in the universe? part of it? metaphor for it?
I've heard a lot about how this film is a kind of 2001. I don't think so. Kubrick and Malick are 2 different kinds, 2 different approaches, purposes, different process, and different outcomes. Kubrick bends narratives to a point of perfection. Obsessive. Chess leaked all over filmmaking. Malick is the other end of the stick. Pure visual intuition, enhanced by Malick's intellectual background. Just because both directors are little fond of public appearances, and because both this and 2001 feature planets, that doesn't bring the films closer.
In 1963, Cortázar published one of the most important books of the last century, Hopscotch. The title of this comment is related to its original title, in Spanish. I think this film and that book have similar aspirations. Trace your path, you have the chapters, but you have to make an order out of them.
How this is done is in pure mastery of every tool of film conception. Every image counts, each shot was taken care with competence and passion, each frame, each camera move - Lubezki has worked with Malick, Iñarritu, Cuarón. Each collaboration adds a lot to what is being done. He really can read the director's aspirations, and deliver nothing short of mastery. At this time he has entered enough important projects to be considered one of the best cinematographers ever.The editing is world class. Every cut, whether the space virtual shots or the family scenes, matter to the narrative, whatever that is. What takes this to a whole new level is how, in this film, Malick tops his already incredible leverage of music. Editing has always equally present the visual as well as the sound scapes. Watch it, let it get absorbed.
This film demands an incredible lot from you, as viewer. It demands that you be a different person after watching you, that indeed you may change your generic approach to film- watching, or at least that you accommodate in you a new way to watch films. On a basic level it's about Malick's intuitions. On another level, it's about what you get on screen. But ultimately it's all about how you place yourself in the universe proposed.
My opinion: 5/5
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