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What Does The Tree of Life Movie Mean? | Epic Tree Life Quotes | Analysis and Meaning Explained

Terrence Malick’s project The Tree of Life movie has eluded many. There are epic tree life quotes strewn across the movie that are deeply satisfying. To say that The Tree of Life was one hell of a baffling movie would be an understatement. It doesn’t skim mainstream and that’s why it is hard for some to fathom. But in a whirlpool of avant-garde films, if you take a look at its ballsy attempt at trying something out of the ordinary, The Tree of Life movie beats everything else to pulp.

The Tree of Life movie is a beast that tops avant-garde elite cinemas. Why, you ask? Read on to find out:

The Tree of Life Movie Explained

There is a heart melting metaphorical poem residing in Emmanuel Lubezki’s spectacular frames, a bold defying question that Terrence Malick poses via human pang, and tries to answer through our creator’s perspective. Also, The Tree of Life movie retains a touching screenplay that amazes you invariably with every stellar Lubezki image.

The Tree of Life movie must have perturbed many. But if you don’t attempt to give it a fair shot at explaining itself, then you have no right calling yourself a true movie buff.

To those who didn’t get what was going on in the movie, I have tried to explain it as unequivocally as possible, rhyming things through its thoughtfulness. I hope it helps in putting things in perspective.

Theme of The Tree of Life Movie (Spoilers Ahead)

Even before you try to understand the movie, get this beforehand – There is no proper timeline followed. So, if you are expecting a series of certain frames to go in order, it simply won’t. You have to remember images on the go, and what they are trying to tell you with every change. Alright? Okay, let’s go!

still of cosmos life in tree of life movie

The titular name of the movie has been aptly named so since it is trying to present us a map to the universe. It goes spiritual, cosmic and skims human psyche at the same time. That being said, it tries to cover all the 10 prominent spheres that acquaint us with mystical extant powers. They are also known as Sephirot.

As the movie commences, we are shown a formless representation of the divine. It could reflect our creator’s formless state, since the real form of what has created us is still unknown.

“Brother. Mother. It was they who led me to your door.”

You can hear in the background a surging roar of the sea and squawking Seagulls as we look at that artless form flicker. That is enough to make you understand it is the protagonist (here Jack) who has come at His door, trying to justify his seeking Him with the aforementioned line of how and why.

Narration

Moving on let’s focus on the theme of the movie. Just like every movie has a theme by which it is supposed to bide by, The Tree of Life movie too has one, and an exceptional one per se. It gets expounded via the following diegesis.

“The nuns taught us there are two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it, when love is smiling through all things. They taught us that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.”

As thoughtful words of Mrs. O’Brien go in the background, we see her younger self embellish the screen. She is an epitome of grace. A personification of joy and mirth, and all the good, pleasant and buoyant things in the world. She plays with other elements of grace, meek harmless animals – like a baby goat, or cows. Then we see Nature – her father (here the men) who appears just when she talks about the existence of nature in their lives.

“I will be true to you. Whatever comes.”

Then the aforesaid is dropped all of a sudden. I believe it could be reflective of a time when Mrs. O’Brien had accepted Nature as a part of her life. Either through her marrying vows, or her offering herself to the universe in the form of prayers.

Demise of the Son

Then we time travel to a time in the future in The Tree of Life movie, where Mrs. O’Brien receives a letter that reads to her the demise of her son. Both Mrs. O’Brien and Mr. O’Brien take it heavily.

“I just wanna die to be with him.”

Death is nature. It is part of Universe’s way of creating and destroying things that has forever eluded us. But to her, it appears like an unfair, unjust act that has ripped off her son and taken him away from her.

People try to justify the ways of nature with condolences:

“I know the pain will, it will pass in time, you know? It might seem hard, my saying that, but it’s true.”

To that she replies:

“I don’t want it to.”

The way of the creator, the unseen is justified with a beautiful line then:

“He sends flies to wounds that He should heal.”

Grief is havocking. At the same time, it is pure. The purest of human notion that lets you brood profusely on things you could have done differently to change the outcome. So Mr. O’Brien laments for the first time succumbing to the ways of grace:

“I never got a chance to tell him how sorry I was. I made him feel shame, my shame. That poor boy. That poor boy.”

Jack’s Memories

That’s where the second flicker of the same artless light consumes us. Jack’s talking again. This time with himself, trying to remember his brother.

“How did you come to me? In what shape? In what disguise?”

That’s also the place in The Tree of Life movie where we get to see an even further future memory glimpse of Jack standing right next to a doorway. It could be a place in his memory, where he is trying to reconcile with himself. We see seagulls for real this time too.

still of Sean Penn as Jack in the tree of life movie

We then find Jack in gloom waking up to the news of his brother’s death. His distant wife who doesn’t have the right words for him is just staring at him. She is a victim to human nature, and Terence makes sure of it that they don’t speak in those fleeting frames. At another point in his office, Jack even though miffed with dusky thoughts, can’t help but stare at a woman who passes him by. That’s again human nature coming at play.

“The world has gone to the dogs. People are greedy. Keep getting worse.”

Within split seconds come images of trees, an entity that has stayed with us at all times, even as we have evolved, and Jack begins to wonder:

“How did I lose you? Wandered? Forgot you?”

Searching his Brother

That’s when we see Jack in a desert. This could be analogous to barren corners of his brain, and he is seeking memories of his lost brother therefrom.

A glimpse shows us a lady who has found his little brother and is kissing him. She is yet another paragon of grace. She could be an angelic memory or a messenger that has him, that also symbolizes the dead boy is now in good hands, with grace. That’s when Jack also finds an image of his little brother at a sea asking him to find him. It could very well hint that Jack wishes to come to terms by seeking faintest memories of him so as to succumb to reconciliation.

Right after that we see Jack imagining himself home, checking on her mother and wondering how she took it. Her screams echo, and he feels it in his bones that it didn’t go well for her.

Mrs. O’Brien is still talking to the almighty meanwhile.

“Was I false to you? Lord? Why? Where were you?”

Incessant Frames of Cosmos

That’s one of the high points of The Tree of Life movie when the real Lubezki magic begins to flow. And it flows straight for 16 wondrous minutes. That gets complemented gorgeously by Alexandre Desplat’s awe-inspiring music. In the form of Nebulas, gases, flickers, shimmers, cosmic energy and big bang, we find our creator answering her.

image of cosmos universe in the tree of life movie

“Did you know? Who are we to you? Answer me.”

When a mother demands God to answer, asking if He even cares, Malick shows us our creator answering her through stunning frames of creation. A poetic gesture manifesting universe, big bang, volcanic eruptions, hot springs, and evolution ensue, as if He is trying to answer that he was busy creating, balancing, maintaining and nurturing the universe, all this time.

“We cry to you. My soul. My son. Hear us.”

We find nature creating grace too. The advent of life with an uplifting music, cells splitting, forming new lives in the process and thus giving rise to multi-celled organisms.

The Dino Era

Life began with water. So we are introduced to a lot of water animals. We see an injured amphibian dinosaur near a water body trying to figure out the gravity of its wound. It has been caught in an ugly side of nature. Something it doesn’t have control over. We see blood in water, and then a hoard of sharks. They are nothing but aquatic behemoths that are simply balancing life even in its blunt ugliness by killing ways of grace.

the tree of life movie water dinosaur injured

There is a beautiful frame wherein we find a predator sparing the life of an easy prey, an injured dinosaur, showing it mercy. It simply goes on to show how grace was present at all times, defying nature silently.

We see that destined meteor heading towards the earth that had disrupted the experimental life of dinosaurs back then, paving way for human life.

We once again reach Jack’s perspective who is scampering along barren lands, still trying to find the spot of placation in his brain.

“You spoke to me through her. You spoke to me through the sky. The trees. Before I knew I loved you. Believed in you. When did you first touch my heart?”

Waco Origins

He is now trying to remember how grace had him from the very start. This is the part that takes us back in time wherein he was conceived by Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien played powerfully by Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain.

Pregnancy has never been such poetically depicted before. We find Mrs. O’Brien calling out children, whispering into their ears, showing them gates to life, steps to the world, summoning them at all times. You see different types of children there, which could be suggestive of the process of fertilization and then how despite all odds only one makes it in the end. Here Jack! A child swimming in water leaving his room (womb) behind could be intimating us of how a womb is a world per se  for foetus.

still of Jack being taken by Mrs. O'Brien in Tree of life

We find Jack growing up as Mrs. O’Brien helps him at all times. Then comes another child, and we see Jack becoming wary of all the attention that is given to him instead. There is repressed jealousy that once again directs us towards nature, something we have no control over. Then we see bubbles. A sign of grace! Then a man dying, a violent act of nature yet again.

Amongst other things of nature that follow are: a dog barking at Jack, him being afraid, his father scolding him, yet another baby etc. Then at the same time grace stays close by in the form of her mother caring for them all, their celebrating Halloween, lighting up sparklers, mother reading a story book, playing with water, Jack holding his brother’s hand, good night kisses and also them playing with each other.

Nature and Grace Speaking through Things

Whilst tucking children in bed Mrs O’Brien is asked to share a past good memory. She tells them about the time she went for a ride in a plane. Then we actually see her fly in the air which is in fact her telling them that it felt as if she was flying for real.

“Mother. Make me good. Brave.”

There are glimpses of miscreants showed, the bad elements in life (nature), and then a frame that shows Mrs. O’Brien helping a miscreant drink water. (grace)

“Where do you live? Are you watching me? I want to know what you are. I want to see what you see.”

We find contrasting images, in the Tree of Life movie, of their mother trying to wake them up with their father’s. The latter always compelled them to comply with a glum face. Whilst the former would mischievously yet gracefully wake them up with ice, bringing smiles to their faces.

Lessons by Nature

Then comes remarkable lessons from the father:

“Don’t do like I did. Promise me that. If you are looking for something to happen, that was it. That was life. You lived it.”

Then at one point we see Mr. O’Brien using this beauty of a line:

“Wrong people go hungry, die. Wrong people get loved. The world lives by trickery. If you want to succeed you can’t be too good.”

Without Nature

We find a boy ending up getting drowned and a boy razed by fire, which compels Jack to question God’s existence.

“Where were you? You let a boy die. You’ll let anything happen. Why should I be good, if you aren’t?”

Jack succumbs to vandalism, animal abuse and trespassing when his father goes to a long business trip. The absence of Nature, goes on to create a subset of nature. His heart fills up with guilt when he finds himself getting weirdly attracted to a neighbor, and ends up stealing her nightgown. This again is an aftermath of a wild uncontrollable act of nature. All of it gets aptly justified by:

“Things you got to learn. How can we know stuff until we look?”

His mother on the other hand keeps teaching them good:

“Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.”

There’s malice, hatred that flows as part of nature in Jack, and there’s nothing he could do to feel otherwise. In a deep reminiscing voice Jack says:

“How do I get back…where they are?”

There is this moment where he accidentally takes a joke too far, and ends up shooting his brother’s finger. He goes abounding with guilt as the backdrop says:

“What I want to do I can’t do. I do what I hate.”

He is truly sorry and is instantly forgiven by his brother too. It is like an unnamed feeling for him, but it shatters him beyond limit nevertheless. He learns compassion, sympathy – the ways of grace.

What was it you showed me? I didn’t know how to name you then. But I would see it was you. Always you were calling me.

Hatred for his Father

There are conspicuous moments of abomination in The Tree of Life movie wherein we see Jack hating the guts out of his father. He hates to see his mother being fine with it all. That grace can’t live without nature, and vice versa. Jack wishing his father dead is like a person hating nature. The inevitable segment that is blunt and yet quintessential in order to ensure that life goes on.

Finally we see Mr. O’Brien realizing his big mistake:

“I wanted to be loved because I was great. A big man. I’m nothing. Look at the glory around us. Trees and birds. I lived in shame. I dishonored it all and didn’t notice the glory. I’m a foolish man.”

Jack has never seen his father so fallen or lost.

“Father. Mother. Always you wrestle inside me. Always you will.”

Mr. O’Brien realizes he hasn’t done anything substantial when they are forced to move out of their house, and asks for forgiveness.

“You boys are about all I’ve done in life. Otherwise I’ve drawn zilch. You are all I have. You are all I want to have.”

In the last moments of Jack’s memories we see how they move on ending one of the crucial chapters in their lives. It aces with a beautiful quote too:

“The only way to be happy is to love. Unless you love, your life will flash by. Do good to them. Wonder. Hope.”

You can order The Tree of Life Movie from here:


The End of Time Explained

We slowly fade away from Jack’s memory and head towards reality, where we find the mother, Mrs. O’Brien coming out of her grief. She has come to terms with all her questions with the Lord.

We also see the grown up Jack coming out of his trance, for a while too:

Keep us, guide us, till the end of time.

We finally see what looks like the end of time. A point where souls come to rekindle. Images of dead calling out people from the grave, to reconcile is evident there. Jack finally reaches the spot, a beach, where he finds every dead sauntering along trying to find each other. So, even though the place looks like a figment, it is a glimpse shown to him about how everything pans out in the end. Yes, there are seagulls squawking over them.

image of sean penn as jack in the tree of life movie beach

Finding Each Other

Jack finds his mother, and his dead brother. They are happy to see him. His whole family is there. His old man is proud of him. Love is everywhere. Mrs. O’Brien’s joy as she finds her dead child would bring tears to your eyes.

She then kisses a shriveled hand which could be a random one or could be her mother’s too, it’s hard to say.  She then leads her child through a door and is able to reconcile with the sad truth finally, and yet understands the way of the nature.

“I give him to you. I give you my son.”

It looks like there are angels around him, or elements of grace that help her overcome grief. They are talking to her with hand gestures and nimble movements, and she comprehends the way of living with their elemental energy.

We see a smiling Jack in the end as if he has realized the ultimate truth, and has come to terms with it too. He feels lighter and better.

The Final Verdict

Of course there are other explanations possible, but what would be spot on would be Terrence’s own thinking. I would love to hear it though and see how close I was to getting him.

Movies like The Tree of Life are rare gems that need to be celebrated.  If you have a knack for watching the unusual I would highly recommend you to watch The Tree of Life movie at once. It is an esoteric flick that will definitely blow your mind away. However, you need to stay on the same page in order to truly understand the movie for what it is. If it isn’t your forte, I would say don’t bother.  Because it could be really vexing for some.

You can check out the trailer of The Tree of Life movie here:

The Light Between Oceans Review (2016) | Tears you Apart | Profound

The Light Between Oceans left me speechless. I hadn’t broken down to a good drama in days. The Light Between Oceans had me in tears and excruciating chokes. The movie saunters on the theme of love, culpability, repentance, sacrifice and forgiveness, and it aces all of it owing to its ravishing direction and extraordinary performances. And that is just the plot of it. The flick’s stunning cinematography and Alexandre Desplat’s heart-melting music are constantly yet peacefully uplifting its standards of beauty, playing second fiddle.

DIRECTION OF THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS

Derek Cianfrance has become one of my favourite directors. His 2010 movie Blue Valentine had me instantly arrested. Not for the fact that it capered around the concept of love, rather how he was bold enough to show both sides of the coin, that too in a rare engrossing rhythm. Also, he gave us ample time to reflect. When we consider the latter aspect, The Light Between Oceans stays no different.

still of Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender as Isabel and Tom

Cianfrance focuses on the most phenomenal aspects whilst directing. You can feel the warmth in his frames as he successfully depicts love, zooms in on minuscule ingredient of despair, repentance by focusing in on faces of the protagonists to read their thoughts and gravity via the arduous vibes in the air. He allows characters to speak their feelings out with their acting alone and doesn’t resort to theatrics. It retains the patience of time in it, which compels you to read them carefully.

THE PERFECT CAST

To say that the cast was good would be an understatement. They were outrageously fantastic! There is nothing Michael Fassbender can’t do. A war veteran who has returned from death seeks solitude to reflect on what remains of him. His Tom Sherbourne has a musing countenance, a man of few words, and he brims it up with credence. With the arrival of Isabel Graysmark played convincingly well by Alicia Vikander, life finds a new meaning for him. Together they make love very touching. Also, their chemistry has a rare blend of the extraordinaire. I can’t even begin to marvel at their acting prowess. Their faces feel like they are literally living the story. I mean just look at the movie’s poster; it talks!

Rachel Weisz’s Hannah Roennfeldt is equally mesmerizing. She plays a very authentic grieving woman that will have you concentrate on her every syllable.

still of florence clery and michael fassbender in the light between oceans movie

Florence Clery was a perfect fit for Lucy-Grace. If she wouldn’t have been that adorable, then the audience would have failed to see what the fight was for. She is downright enchanting!

MUSICAL FEAST

In those solitary runs to the Lighthouse, the terrific composer Alexandre Desplat underlines and hands us over a perfect backdrop imploring our reflective moods. That’s one rare corner I find myself going lucky inadvertently. I have had the good hap of watching plenty of movies with Desplat in the background, and he never fails to create a magical whirlwind of toneful melody. If you close your eyes, you will feel it literally begging for ovation.

Just when you thought, “Can it go any better than that?” Well, there arrives its magnificent plot.

PLOT OF THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (SPOILERS)

Amidst the harmonious notes, and alluring images of the sea, that calls for enough love, comes a situational conundrum that hangs on its thin wire of decisions. Isabel makes the wrong one, forcing a whirlpool of guilt to swallow Tom up.

A baby arrives in a dinghy which the unfortunate arid Isabel is keen on keeping. She goes so blind in love, she overlooks the fact that a dead man arrived in it too. She coaxes Tom into keeping it and burying the man without informing anybody about it. Along with the cadaver of the man they bury their secret too and the world doesn’t know. Nobody knows that underneath the blinding light of the beacon slept a corrigible mistake patiently waiting for their guilt to nibble them up.

Then one day, it happens. He finds Hannah the original mother grieving for her child and husband. The constant gut-wrenching wrongdoing eats him alive.

still of michael fassbender in tears in The Light between Oceans movie

You could see in those rare frames of Cianfrance, tears of Michael Fassbender lingering in his unsure eyes. What follows, reeks of unrivalled gravitas that will definitely rip you apart. I was shattered beyond limit; Cianfrance made sure of that.

You can purchase the movie DVD from Amazon here:

DEVASTATING BITS

There are so many good things that I take away from The Light Between Oceans. Its powerful screenplay makes me want to revisit it to concentrate enough to remember – Exact words that were spoken. Exact amount of tears that were spent when the poor little child, who had no clue why was she being taken away from her mother cries for her mom. Hannah’s endless scrimmage to get back Lucy even when she did.

still of rachel weisz as Hannah in the light between oceans movie

The fierce abomination that lurked in Isabel’s eyes for Tom, who became a murderer of dreams almost instantly. The zen in her orbs to see Lucy again. Tom’s selfless colossal sacrifice. When Isabel finally reads that letter that changes her heart.

Then when finally Lucy-Grace returns in the epilogue to meet a shriveled Tom. When she understands, comprehends every bit, and thanks him for taking care of her. When she reads Isabel’s letter. And then when she eventually hugs her. That look of contentment in his eyes, that little smile that had somehow gone lost in time returns.

I cannot thank M. L. Stedman enough to have thought something so unusual and exhilarating. Bravo!

Those who wish to read the book, which I am told is even better, can get it from here on Amazon:

Check out the trailer of The Light Between Oceans here:

The Imitation Game Review (2014) | Benedict Cumberbatch is ‘The’ Prodigy

The Imitation Game is a beautiful glimpse into the head of the prodigy Alan Turing. Who plays that? None other than the handsome and captivating Benedict Cumberbatch himself.

 “Are you paying attention? Good. If you are not listening carefully, you will miss things. Important things. I will not pause, I will not repeat myself, and you will not interrupt me. You think that because you’re sitting where you are, and I am sitting where I am, that you are in control of what is about to happen. You’re mistaken. I am in control, because I know things that you do not know.”

The flick takes birth with the aforementioned enthralling screenplay that smells of confidence dripping off Benedict Cumberbatch’s brainiac-avatar. We like to listen to him that way. His bold voice that reeks of the Smaug fury. That voice of Khan that reminds us of his sharp demeanor that he so beautifully donned and carried throughout the movie Star Trek Into Darkness. He literally thrives on screenplay. Don’t you just wish sometimes screenwriters had more badass words to feed him?

Plot of The Imitation Game (Spoilers)

Enigma is impossible to crack. So the world told him. Alan Turing, the prodigy who defied a relentless encrypting machine, was the person responsible for reducing the devastating span of war that engulfed Europe by two years. The Father of Artificial Intelligence played God to minimize casualties and nobody had a clue. The biopic is a tribute to Turing which eases through 114 minutes of brilliance manifesting his love life, his genius, his eureka and his sorry demise.

Cumberbatch as the polymath works extremely hard to project a guy who is different from the rest. He imparts him an apt stammer with a clumsier gravity. Alexandre Desplat weaves magic in the background with his brilliant notes.

You can order The Imitation Game from here:

I loved how Keira Knightley‘s character Joan Clarke tries to reason with Turing when he tries to break up with her.

“We will have each other’s minds. Sounds like a better marriage than most.

still of benedict cumberbatch and keira knightley in the imitation game

Downsides to The Imitation Game

Morten Tyldum’s direction is good but there are times when you feel it could have gone better. Since, directors believe viewers to be laymen, most of them don’t venture into the technical aspect of a prodigy. A little bit fathomable technical is a welcome inclusion and if a director makes you understand the what and the how of the work entailed, big things like cracking a code should give you an equal and exact amount of thrill as its protagonist projects. Precisely what the flick missed.

Turing is a war hero often unsung and overlooked. What he gave the world is truly precious. Somehow something tells me, this guy’s life deserves a series to portray minute crucial details. Now that is something that couldn’t be possibly condensed into a movie. The grandeur of what he was doing and what he did is beyond time. A flick like this doesn’t do justice to his remarkable life.

The Final Verdict

The Imitation Game rivets you with Alan’s ingenious almost instantly. Desplat’s notes make sure that you don’t get a jaded moment at all. Whilst Cumberbatch ensures you witness a prodigy. Matthew Goode, Keira Knightley, Charles Dance and Mark Strong fill the screen aptly with their effective and memorable presence. Overall the movie turns out brilliant.

A great biopic to watch! Highly recommended.

Check out the trailer of The Imitation Game here: