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Terrence Malick’s latest and long awaited film, The Tree of Life, had its premiere at 64th Cannes Film Festival, on 17th of May and has been nominated for Palme D’or, among other absorbing films like Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Once Upon a Time In Anatolia. The story focuses on an American family during 1950’s. The cast is quite impressive, starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain. This is Malick’s 5th movie as a writer and director.
Malick’s biography is quite interesting, he studied philosophy at Harvard University, and was influenced by philosophers like Martin Heidegger, who has been considered as one of the greatest thinkers of 20th century. Heidegger’s emphasize on Dasein’s (which could be translated as Being-there, since Heidegger avoids using metaphysical concepts such as human) situation with regard to its relation between Being, Dasein’s existential analyze with the concepts such as care (Sorge) and fear (Angst), especially in his masterpiece Being and Time, and his critique of technology are significant aspects of his philosophy. Malick translated Heidegger’s “Vom Wesen des Grundes” as “The Essence of Reasons” and it was published in 1969. His philosophy background effected his film career, and many critics consider his films as cult, especially his Golden Bear awarded film The Thin Red Line (1998).
Malick did not show himself at the premiere of The Tree of Life, while his film made a tremendous impact, and divided the audience into two. Protests and applauses heard at the same time. At the press conference of the film, the abscence of Terrence Malick made people even more curious, and the reason for Malick’s nonattendance given as his being a shy person. Brad Pitt answered the question of “does he eat and talk?” as “yes, he even goes to the bathroom”. The religious and theological aspects in his movie related to his own perspectives were also brought up and his interest in philosophy was emphasized once again at the press conference.
The trailer of The Tree of Life is quite mysterious like Malick himself, but definitely draws attention. Here is the synopsis at Festival de Cannes’ official page:
“The Tree of Life is the impressionistic story of a Midwestern family in the 1950′s. 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. Jack finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith.”
Award Ceremony of Cannes Film Festival is on 22nd of May. We will see how Malick’s The Tree of Life impressed the jury.