Although we've already uncovered two separate synopsis of Terrence Malick's "Tree Of Life," no one -- including us -- seems to know what the hell it's about. Rather fitting Malick's ponderous, beautiful and slow-moving pictures are generally about nothing other than navel-gazing and the beauty and sadness of life.
We do know (or think) that Brad Pitt stars and Sean Penn plays his dad -- presumably in flashbacks -- and from everything we've read, including the most recent synopsis, it sounds like it's about Pitt dealing with the death of his father.
"The story of a family who must come to terms with a devastating loss. In doing so, they discover life's most important lessons of unselfish love and forgiveness," reads one synopsis. The second suggests we track the life of Pitt or Sean over a large-spanning period of his life. "The evolution of a young man in 1950s Midwest to a disillusioned adult."
"We trace the evolution of an eleven-year-old boy in the Midwest, Jack, one of three brothers. At first all seems marvelous to the child. He sees as his mother does, with the eyes of his soul. She represents the way of love and mercy, where the father tries to teach his son the world's way, of putting oneself first. Each parent contends for his allegiance, and Jack must reconcile their claims. The picture darkens as he has his first glimpses of sickness, suffering and death. The world, once a thing of glory, becomes a labyrinth."
It definitely sounds like a father and son tale. "Jack, with his new understanding, is able to forgive his father and take his first steps on the path of life." But obviously the Tree of Life itself has large allusions to immortality. So wtf is this news via Jeffrey Wells that they'll be dinosaurs in the film???
"We're just starting work on a project for Terrence Malick, animating dinosaurs, the film is The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. It'll be showing in IMAX -- so the dinosaurs will actually be life size -- and the shots of the creatures will be long and lingering." -- this comes from an Empire magazine interview with VFX artist Mike Fink.
Is there some sort of crazy time-travel element to the film? Or is one of the characters, presumably Pitt since he is the star immortal since B.C. times? We do know that Pitt and Penn don't actually act alongside each other at all, because Pitt said so in an interview with Charlie Rose, but dinosaurs? This sounds like Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain" (a similar sounding project) gone off the rails.
One things for sure, if animation work of IMAX is just beginning now, rumors that "Tree of Life" will be ready for Cannes this May seem way off unless dinosaurs appear in the film for just a brief moment. Hopefully it's some strange dream and Malick hasn't completely lost it?
Wells wrote a piece on Malick back in the day about a abandoned '70s project then-called, "Q" telling the story of the universe from its origins and into the future. "I remember a passage about a dinosaur sleeping and dreaming in a sea of magma -- I remember that much. The story spanned millenia." 'Life' potentially spans a long-ass time too, so this could easily be the same project.
Ok, now we're still totally confused, but 'Tree of Life' does sound a lot like "Q" in a new form. A 1995 article about the project stated:
"[I]n the summer of 1978, Malick had begun work on Q--easily his most ambitious project. The original concept was a multicharacter drama set in the Middle East during World War I, with a prologue set in prehistoric times. But after dispatching an assistant for 10 weeks to scout locations, Malick chucked the Middle East section. By the end of the year, the prehistoric prologue had become the whole script."Apparently Pitt told Charlie Rose in late December 2007: "It's about time, existence, and our place in that little timeline." The plot thickens.