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The Tree of Life (2011)

PG-13 | | Drama, Fantasy | 17 May 2011 (France)
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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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1,112 ( 201)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 103 wins & 111 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

17 May 2011 (France)  »

Also Known As:

El árbol de la vida  »

Box Office

Budget:

$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As was the case with James Horner's music for The New World (2005), much of the music composed Alexandre Desplat never made it to the final cut of this film. Even though he is credited as composer, only a few minutes of his music are heard in the film. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in The Chase Australia: Episode #1.33 (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Klangschalen 2
Written and Performed by Klaus Wiese
Courtesy of Akasha, Germany
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Nature and Grace
9 June 2011 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. Rare are the times that I find myself lacking words to express my opinion on a movie just watched. But writer/director Terrence Malick does not play fair. First of all, what director makes five films in 40 years? Who makes a film about CREATION, life, evolution, spirituality, death and existence? What director seems to thrive when no real story is needed to make his points? Which director can so mess with the viewer's head through visual artistry never before seen on screen? The answer to these questions, of course, is Terrence Malick. And I hold him responsible the fact that I remain in somewhat of a semi-conscious fog four days after watching his latest masterpiece.

Any attempt to explain this film would be futile. It is so open to interpretation and quite a personal, intimate journey for any viewer who will free themselves for the experience. What I can tell you is that much of the film is focused on a typical family living in small town rural Texas in the early 1950's. Brad Pitt plays Mr. O'Brien, the stern disciplinarian father and husband to Jessica Chastain's much softer Mrs. O'Brien.

Near the beginning of the film, we get Mrs. O'Brien as narrator explaining that when she was a child, the nuns informed that in life one must choose between Nature and Grace. Nature being the real time of real life, whereas Grace is the more spiritual approach. Clearly, Mr. O'Brien has chosen Nature, while his wife embodies Grace. Watching their three boys evolve in this household is quite a treat - and is done with so little dialogue, it's almost shocking to the senses.

One of the many things that jumped out at me was the set and production design of Jack Fisk. Mr. Fisk is a frequent collaborator with Mr. Malick and is also the husband of Sissy Spacek, who starred in Malick's first film Badlands. Unlike many films, I did not have the feeling I was watching a film about the 50's. Instead, the look is directly IN the 50's ... slamming screen doors, tree houses, and family supper time! But don't think for a moment that this is a story about the O'Brien's and their sons. This family is merely Malick's vessel for showing the earthly connections between the universe and each of the particles within. If you think this sounds a bit pretentious, you should know that Mr. Malick graduated from Harvard with a philosophy degree, became a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and a professor at MIT. This is a thinking man and an artist.

Actually I would describe the experience as viewing an art exhibit and listening to poetry. It really sweeps over and through you, and takes you on a trip of introspection. So many human emotions are touched - the need to be loved, appreciated and respected. We see the oldest O'Brien son later in life. Sean Penn plays him as a very successful middle aged adult who still struggles with the death of a brother and communication skills learned from his childhood. This is an odd sequence but provided to give balance to the flurry of emotions the younger boy survives.

This was the 2011 Cannes Film Festival Palm d'Or winner and that means little if you don't open up as you walk into the theatre. It's a contemplative journey that you can either take part in or fight. My advice is to open up and let this beautiful impression of all life take your mind places it may have never been before.


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