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The Tree of Life (2011)

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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.

Director:

Terrence Malick

Writer:

Terrence Malick
Popularity
1,899 ( 10)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 111 wins & 117 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brad Pitt ... Mr. O'Brien
Sean Penn ... Jack
Jessica Chastain ... Mrs. O'Brien
Hunter McCracken ... Young Jack
Laramie Eppler Laramie Eppler ... R.L.
Tye Sheridan ... Steve
Fiona Shaw ... Grandmother
Jessica Fuselier Jessica Fuselier ... Guide
Nicolas Gonda ... Mr. Reynolds
Will Wallace ... Architect
Kelly Koonce Kelly Koonce ... Father Haynes
Bryce Boudoin Bryce Boudoin ... Robert
Jimmy Donaldson Jimmy Donaldson ... Jimmy
Kameron Vaughn Kameron Vaughn ... Cayler
Cole Cockburn Cole Cockburn ... Harry Bates
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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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 May 2011 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

El árbol de la vida See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$372,920, 27 May 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$13,303,319, 23 October 2011

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$54,303,319, 27 October 2011
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Extended Cut)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Emmanuel Lubezki, Terrence Malick actually consulted with NASA for footage of the cosmos as well as other grand visuals. See more »

Goofs

When young Jack enters the neighbor's house to snoop, there is a brief glimpse of a tuned wind chime which is heard sounding. Tuned wind chimes didn't exist in the 1950s; there were only the un-tuned, jangly type (and very few of those in middle-class Texas homes). 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 »

Alternate Versions

An extended 189 minute version was released on Blu-Ray and DVD by the Criterion Collection in September 2018. See more »

Connections

Featured in Estrenos Críticos: Especial Anime (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Wind Pipes
Written and Performed by Michael Baird
Courtesy of Sharp Wood Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Nature and Grace
9 June 2011 | by ferguson-6See 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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