Tree of Life

Cory Bennet

I am going to watch The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick for three reasons. I own it and haven’t watched it. Edouard Louis wrote in the beginning of Who Killed My Father? that “It would also have been impossible without the films of Terrence Malick” regarding the writing of the book. Louis has been an important writer to me since End of Eddy and I want to get closer to his mind and I think watching a film that had such a large impact on him is one way to do that.

I am going to record my reactions here while watching the movie on the couch in the living room. So, a sort of liveblog. I have orally ingested 30mg of Adderall, 2mg Klonopin, and been smoking weed since 9am (it is now 3pm). The air out is disgusting due to the fire and I have a headache. I am sitting on the couch with my dog. It is hot. I am wearing shorts and nothing else. My hair is tied back.

I am not quite sure what the movie is about, a son looking back at his childhood memories? I have avoided looking at any synopsis, even the back of the case. The front cover shows a woman walking on what appears to be salt flats toward the hills during dawn, or perhaps sunset, and there’s a flipped image of people on a beach, maybe.

Job 38: 4-7
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

I have turned my phone off. The movie is two hours and nineteen minutes long.

My intent is not to summarize or analyze the movie. Only to write down what moves me.

Nature vs. grace, nature pleases itself while grace simple accepts. “It finds reasons to be unhappy.” Brad Pitt on the tarmac, phone, call, hands on shoulders, the sun setting. “I just want to die.” In the tree lined suburban street. Bells toiling. Hands cradling other hands. A death. Pitt watering the lawn saying “its ok, we are alright.” The mother’s friend saying “the pain will pass in time” the mother responds, “I don’t want it to.”

I am realizing at this pace I will have quoted more than ¾ of the film and that is not my intention nor can I keep up.

He sends flies to wounds that he should heal.

The ocean, Sean Penn is at the beach in a suit washing his face. He is in a canyon now.

The cinematography is strange but it propels me forward. There is constant movement. Fragments of memory. Thoughts spoken out loud.

HOW DID SHE BEAR IT? I feel this way about my own mother.

A murmuring. reminds me of Davis, California. Reminds me of the skate video Mindfield by Alien Workshop. Reminds me of my father explaining to me what a murmuring is.

Walking scenes. Prayer. Nature.

The volcano or whatever, the smoking coming out of the ground. The blue sky and clouds.

I got distracted by my thoughts and now there are dinosaurs and the planets. I have been staying until 4am and sleeping until 8am and then I usually take a nap around 5pm until 7pm or 8pm.

My roommate came home and we talked and I am confused about the children. Who is the baby they show her giving birth to? The dead son or Sean Penn? Brad Pitt looks older.

My mother called. she got an AG card to get through the road blocks they put up after the fire.

Pitt’s children fear him. Uncomfortable by his touch. Classical music, “sir” and so forth.

Pitt teaching the son to punch and telling him “hit me, give me some, show me whatchu got.” I am reminded of my own father teaching me how to fight.

The son stole his mother’s dress and threw it into the river and said, “I can’t talk to you, don’t look at me.” I don’t know why he did it, maybe I missed something. I’m trying to holler at a girl and this movie is not particularly compelling but the images are striking and beautiful and resonates emotionally with me. It feels like nothing but feelings, and feelings can be tricky.

I’ve gained little insight into why this film is so important to Louis. I found the movie to be pretentious and only exists because tons of money.

Cory Bennet lives in California, but is on his way to Ohio.