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The Tree of Life (2011)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Fantasy  |  17 May 2011 (France)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 128,926 users   Metascore: 85/100
Reviews: 973 user | 574 critic | 43 from Metacritic.com

The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents' conflicting teachings.



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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 96 wins & 104 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hunter McCracken ...
Laramie Eppler ...
Jessica Fuselier ...
Kelly Koonce ...
Bryce Boudoin ...
Jimmy Donaldson ...
Kameron Vaughn ...
Cole Cockburn ...


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 alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 May 2011 (France)  »

Also Known As:

El árbol de la vida  »

Box Office


$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$372,920 (USA) (27 May 2011)


$13,303,319 (USA) (21 October 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The large swimming pool carved out of a natural setting is Barton Springs, a major tourist attraction in the heart of Austin, Texas, known in modern times for its large population of topless females. See more »


The credits say that Johannes Brahms's fourth symphony, second movement is heard (in a version by Herbert von Karajan, not Arturo Toscanini as in the film), but it is the fourth movement. See more »


[first lines]
Jack: [in a whisper] Brother. Mother. It was they who led me to your door.
[choir singing dirge]
See more »


Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade - The Tuileries - Bydio (Piano Version)
Written by Modest Mussorgsky
Performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy
Courtesy of Decca Music Group Ltd.
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

a masterpiece - and easy to understand
19 May 2011 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

I saw The Tree Of Life last night. Just like Sean Penn, who spends the day in the office remembering about his brothers and family, the most urgent thing I feel I have to do this morning is to write about the movie. I haven't be so much impressed by a story, a song or a a film from a very long time.

It should go without saying, but let me tell you that this is not a film you should see if you just want to stop thinking about your life for a couple of hours. This should be kind of automatic, i know: but it's worth mentioning, as it would be really a pity to see flourishing such comments or opinions like "i was expecting something else" or "it's very slow paced" or "i didn't really understand that part of the story". Go watch this movie if you want (or: if you NEED) to think about yourself and your life and your story and your future MORE than you usually do, not less. Go watch this movie if you want to find a companion voice wondering together with you about what kind of relationship can be found between our personal stories and the story of the universe, between the quickness of a lizard running across a summer cornfield in Texas and the infinite spaces dividing the countless stars of the universe, between the tenderness of the love that you felt for your parents as a child and the plain fact that in order to grow up, to reproduce that love, you had to leave that child and that love behind you. The voice will help you to realize that the missing links are actually there, in front of your eyes; that in order to see them, your eyes must be open; and that regaining the innocence that seemed lost forever is the key, and the result, of understanding and accepting the presence of those links, opening your eyes.

Tree of Life is not a lecture, it's not a sermon: it's an honest flow of memories, meshed with inventions and dreams. It's a masterpiece. I don't feel like making technical remarks here, with this lone exception: everybody will talk about the magnificence of the images of the universe, the ones about the story of the world. I was struck, instead, by the way children were depicted in this movie: the camera is always at the same level of their eyes and after a while you really feel a kid yourself, a friend of them, a member of the pack, playing with them, one of them, again.

Strongly suggested to anybody, as long as you are looking for relax through relief, not relief through relax. But, in the end, The Tree Of Life it's a work easy to understand for anybody who's in the proper mindset - and yes, "everybody" includes even your children: in the worst case they will sleep through it, but hopefully they will stay awake, as they will feel perfectly comfortable with the family stories (since they are told with an honesty they will recognize as very close to their own). Eventually, maybe, they will wonder together with you about the meaning and the magnificence of the images retelling the story of the universe and time. Otherwise, as I said, they will sleep - but peacefully.

485 of 903 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Perhaps the best movie of all time. abominablesnowbat
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is Terrence Malick Retarded or just on drugs when he made this one ?? auto78900
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Anyone who calls this film visually impressive needs to study science. securejames
One of the most underrated movies of all time maguew_9
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