I went to see ‘The Tree of Life’ at the Abaton, expecting a family drama, most likely presented differently from the ‘daddy died, mum’s unhappy, child as well’-movies that can be found everywhere and every-night. Well, ‘The Tree of Life’ is different – such very unexpected scenes are shown that halfway through the movie I felt the strong urge to leave the cinema immediately. But I didn’t. That is why I observed detailed shots of micro-organisms, the universe and all elements that can be found in it. It culminated in a pseudo-realistic scene in which dinosaurs (!) were lying, nearly fighting and walking through the woods. I still have no clue why that is necessary for the movie, but gladly I am not the only one. Most viewers were confused after the movie was over. But what was it about – the part in which no images of cosmic explosions were shown?
As I said, it is a family drama. But instead of chronologically telling the viewer what happened, why it happened and easily letting him/her predict what the consequences will be, it presents sequences, snapshots, ideas and concepts of this particular family’s life. ‘The Tree of Life’ makes you think about family constellations, sometimes it’s judgmental, most of the times it merely depicts. You develop hatred for some characters, are confused by them the next minute, you soon feel sorry and are definitely happy that you’re not part of this family – are you really? Why characters act as they do and what eventually leads to the dramatic moment is understandable only to a certain degree. But the movie is not one that wants to be comprehensible, but more emotionally understandable.
Another strong theme in this drama is religion. The movie is introduced by a religious quote and every now and then a shimmering light will appear on the screen. It is accompanied by wandering, searching thoughts, rethinking the happenings, questioning the beliefs that are strengthened or shattered.
Communication is not very present in the movie – for the most part the atmosphere is very quiet, thoughts in voice-overs are a big part of the movie. It speaks through its pictures, sometimes in very mysterious ways.
If you try to understand it by talking with someone else, you’ll certainly have moments of agreement and disagreement – that’s assuming you’ll find someone who’s willing to talk about it and didn’t run off when the dinosaurs appeared.