This blog is part of the courses on film, art, literature, and media given by Dr. Hudson Moura, Toronto, Canada.
Friday, March 31, 2017
Screening Memory Film Series: The Tree of Life
Critical Report by Hannah Purugganan
The film entitled the Tree of Life was a complex film that told a story of a man’s journey to discovering how he ended up how is presently. Discussions made afterwards the film concluded were interesting however minimal, which made wanting to discuss more about the content disinteresting.
The Tree of Life is a film that follows the journey of a man named Jack as he recalls memories from his past that have been triggered once he figures that his younger brother has passed away. We follow Jack’s memories from when he was a child being with his family, more specifically, we see the relationship between Jack and his father which has resonated with him even as an adult. This film truly emphasized the theme of memory and space for we saw Jack travel through his memories to find himself in a sense. Space was seen in the film every time Jack’s father did something harsh to his son which drove him away from a close relationship with the family--which was the space created between them.
One individual was talking about heaven and the afterlife ‑ we are destined to go to heaven but we can remember what our past lives were like. I did not agree with this discussion point for the reason that the film did not really portray any sense of heaven or hell with the scenes, perhaps they may have been referring to the scenes towards the end of them film where there many people in a clearing, however to me, it just looked like there was a portrayal of the journey to death or heaven but not necessarily heaven itself.
The guest speaker was really trying to emphasize something about the relationship between God and Job when God put him to the test in order to prove his loyalty. This point does make sense in the sense when looking at the film and putting Mr. O’Brien as God and Jack as Job, their characters are slightly similar - only in the sense where Mr. O’Brien made his son’s life hell and Jack just had to take it and follow it because his father is his superior. However, in the story of God and Job, Job took what his father was throwing at him and still believed and loved him - Jack however resented his father, which is seen in the film where Jack is older and does not want to comfort his father when they find out that his brother died.
Based on the fact that I did not attend any of the other screenings, I can only compare the discussions that were taken place for the film to discussions we had during class time. Compared to film clips we have watched during class, I have noticed that there was a lot more class participation when it came to commenting on scenes shown however, during The Tree of Life discussion, participation was lacking extremely. Knowing this, I believe that the reason there was a lack of opinions given was because the film was slow. I found the film interesting only during the parts when it showed the family life happening but other than that, I had no interest. In the beginning of the film, there was a long scene where it just dark and blank and to be honest, I fell asleep for a bit. The concept of the film was interesting however I only understood it afterwards once I reflected upon it. Because of slowness of the film, I felt as if though it dragged on for so long that the audience, including myself, were just waiting for it to end. We had no more energy to tap into any discussions because we drained trying to comprehend the meaning of the film while it was in session. I conclude that this film held an interesting concept when it came to the theme of memory and space, unfortunately however, I felt the discussions lacked depth and enthusiasm which contributed to myself not enjoying my experience in watching the film and discussing it.