942 The Tree of Life

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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hearthesilence
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Re: 942 The Tree of Life

#1251 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:03 pm

I'll probably catch a theatrical screening if possible, but outside of the extended cut, what about the rest of the set in terms of extras and PQ - worth upgrading even if you don't like the extended cut?

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tenia
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Re: 942 The Tree of Life

#1252 Post by tenia » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:28 pm

PQ seems pretty much identical considering the technical stems of the movie and its very young age.

The new extras seem rather short to me but Chris' wrote rather positively about them in his review, so I guess that for US consumers, considering how even shorter the original extras were, it's probably a plus.

However, I feel it's a missed opportunity not to include the extras from the French release : on top of the 30 min Exploring The Tree of Life extras (also included in the original US release and in the Criterion one), there is a 22 min ITW with Desplat, a 25 min one with Michel Ciment about Malick (Ciment having interviewed Malick quite early in his career) and a 2-part 19 min ITW with Yvonne Baby, who is a journalist but also a friend of Malick. Maybe Criterion felt they were redundant with their own new extras (though the Desplat one probably wasn't) or maybe they were too expensive even for Criterion to license ?

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cdnchris
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Re: 942 The Tree of Life

#1253 Post by cdnchris » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:56 pm

I did like the features on here, though it's easily the extended cut that will be the biggest draw. But I was especially pleased with Seitz's essays and really wish they included all of them on here (butit makes sense, obviously, to just have the ones around The Tree of Life).

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PfR73
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Re: 942 The Tree of Life

#1254 Post by PfR73 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:46 pm

tenia wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:28 pm
PQ seems pretty much identical considering the technical stems of the movie and its very young age.

The new extras seem rather short to me but Chris' wrote rather positively about them in his review, so I guess that for US consumers, considering how even shorter the original extras were, it's probably a plus.

However, I feel it's a missed opportunity not to include the extras from the French release : on top of the 30 min Exploring The Tree of Life extras (also included in the original US release and in the Criterion one), there is a 22 min ITW with Desplat, a 25 min one with Michel Ciment about Malick (Ciment having interviewed Malick quite early in his career) and a 2-part 19 min ITW with Yvonne Baby, who is a journalist but also a friend of Malick. Maybe Criterion felt they were redundant with their own new extras (though the Desplat one probably wasn't) or maybe they were too expensive even for Criterion to license ?
I'm confused, isn't the Desplat interview on the Criterion release?

"Interview from 2011 with composer Alexandre Desplat about the film, and a new interview with music critic Alex Ross about Malick's approach to music"

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cdnchris
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Re: 942 The Tree of Life

#1255 Post by cdnchris » Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:49 pm

Oh shit I didn't even notice that but no, Desplat's interview isn't on the disc. Just the Ross interview. Desplat only appears in the making of.

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dwk
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Re: 942 The Tree of Life

#1256 Post by dwk » Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:53 pm

tenia wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:28 pm
...
However, I feel it's a missed opportunity not to include the extras from the French release : on top of the 30 min Exploring The Tree of Life extras (also included in the original US release and in the Criterion one), there is a 22 min ITW with Desplat, a 25 min one with Michel Ciment about Malick (Ciment having interviewed Malick quite early in his career) and a 2-part 19 min ITW with Yvonne Baby, who is a journalist but also a friend of Malick. Maybe Criterion felt they were redundant with their own new extras (though the Desplat one probably wasn't) or maybe they were too expensive even for Criterion to license ?
Since they went over budget on creating the recut, they may have had to forgo licensing (or even attempting to license) those extras.

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tenia
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Re: 942 The Tree of Life

#1257 Post by tenia » Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:38 pm

Something I forgot : I'm surprised the 7.1 track was dropped in favor of a 5.1 one instead. I thought it was theatrically mixed that way (which IMDB currently indicates, for what it's worth) and while a minor thing, I remain surprised it has been replaced by a less spatialized one.

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tenia
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Re: 942 The Tree of Life

#1258 Post by tenia » Thu Oct 11, 2018 12:10 pm

I was looking for additional details on what the EC contains and found 3 articles detailing these : Indiewire, Film School Rejects and The Film Stage.

Having seen the extended cut yesterday, it definitely has its good and not so good things. I think Indiewire nails it when writing "The new material is quieter, more sober, lacking the sweeping musicality of the original". That's what I take most as a direct primary feeling. It doesn't feel very longer (though now clocking at 3h08, I felt it to be quite a different less accessible beast), but it has a definitely different vibe. The original cut is very musical. It's aerial, it feels symphonic at times, grandiose. The EC feels much quieter and more intimate. We're closer to the O'Brien family, but also their relatives and friends. It's less of a all-encompassing symphony and more of a family drama in which the devil lies in the details.

For instance, it's interesting to see how the added material weighs a lot on how the O'Brien couple is projected. In the TC, they clearly have their challenges and conflicts, but they still seem to get along and to overcome their opposite personalities. In the EC, Chastain is seen or heard sobbing or crying very often. Her husband is almost depicted as a pure burden : her (newly introduced) brother doesn't like, her mother (in new discussions) doesn't like him, Mrs O'Brien explains how she had to basically abandon her dreams for him and their family, and other additional materials depicts him again as hot-headed and hard, weighing on the balance created in the EC. In the meantime, we're also shown new material relativizing this, especially the neighbor kid's parents : the mother is an alcooholic, the father is abusive. Yeah, Mr O'Brien might be hard and tough, but he's probably still better. But still : the father's awareness (by the end of the movie) of this hard cold toughness now feels lighter than it should. We've been shown more. It almost doesn't work anymore because of that. It feels artificial.

Aside of that, Chastain gets additional material too, but I'm not convinced by them either. I always liked the basic psychanalitical opposition between Mr and Mrs O'Brien. By deepening her texture in the EC, it muddies this opposition. In a way, it feels like getting to know better these characters I've grown to like, but I feel I prefered the impressionistic minimalist way used in the TC.

What I preferred, as a whole, is the added material for the brotherhood (whether they're kids or the Sean Penn elements). I felt this was where the new elements both deepened our understanding while still operating by small touches well integrated in the TC. It both extends their screentimes AND remain fluid and "typical" enough of the movie to feel fully respectful of the TC musicality and overall style. I especially liked what is done with Sean Penn's sequences in the first 20 minutes or so. They not only foreshadow Malick's visual style in his subsequent movie (especially Knight of Cups and Song to Song) but they also felt, again, perfectly in line with the original material and cut, thus blending seamlessly.


If I had to choose, in the end, I'd still choose the TC because of how powerful and masterful it feels. The EC seems like a longer visit to these characters, and some of the additional learnings are interesting but other disturb the overall themes and pace of the movie. The "best" to me would probably be the TC with just the extra bits of Sean Penn and the kids, but without this, TC it is.
But it certainly was an interesting viewing, and it also made me wonder how much other stuff Malick shot but hasn't used at all. I was particularly surprised by the tornado sequence, because I'd assume it's logistically quite an important and costful thing to shot, and to leave it aside completely remains surprising (but hey, it's Malick).
Last edited by tenia on Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:11 am, edited 2 times in total.

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whaleallright
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Re: 942 The Tree of Life

#1259 Post by whaleallright » Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:14 pm

What do we make of the fact that although the film is obviously built on Malick's own life (down to the location and style of home he lived in as a child), he chose to submerge the autobiography in part by giving the family an Irish surname rather than the Lebanese "Malick" (an iteration of Malik)?

ivuernis
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Re: 942 The Tree of Life

#1260 Post by ivuernis » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:25 pm

whaleallright wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:14 pm
What do we make of the fact that although the film is obviously built on Malick's own life (down to the location and style of home he lived in as a child), he chose to submerge the autobiography in part by giving the family an Irish surname rather than the Lebanese "Malick" (an iteration of Malik)?
His mother was Irish, who he was closer to by all accounts, so maybe that had some bearing on it? The grandmother character was played by the Irish actress Fiona Shaw and Brian Dennehy who plays the father figure in Knight of Cups is of Irish ancestry too.

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whaleallright
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Re: 942 The Tree of Life

#1261 Post by whaleallright » Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:38 pm

That makes total sense. I guess Malick had what you might call a very "typically American" midcentury upbringing, but it seems as if very few critics have ever made anything of his middle-eastern ancestry. I misremembered in calling them "Lebanese," though; his paternal grandparents, Nanajon (or Nanajan, I've seen both spellings) and Avimelk, were immigrants from Urmia in present-day Iran, and were I believe of Assyrian ancestry. (No doubt Trump and his Gauleiters would have worked hard to prevent them from ever reaching this country.)

"Fun" fact: Nanajon settled on the north side of Chicago and lived just a few blocks from where I grew up on Roscoe St. Terrence's dad, Emil, was the organist at a church (much as in the film!) in Lakeview, situated about a mile from the theater where I saw The Tree of Life.

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Re: Terrence Malick

#1262 Post by ModelShopAbschied » Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:03 am

Just finished the extended re-cut version from the recent Criterion release.

I've been skeptical about the elaborate, "it's a completely different film!"-type reactions that I've seen towards it — but I gotta say, they aren't that far off. It's not a "different film", per se, but it's certainly an entirely new experience. The narrative is a helluva lot more fleshed out. I'd even say that this re-cut would probably be ideal viewing for people who were put off by the original (or Malick's other, more abstracted work of recent), despite the new 3-hour runtime.

All the extra footage is such a treat, and the new stuff wastes no time in popping up — the first "movement" of the film is noticeable much longer and has much more exposition than the original cut.

And dear lord this restoration looked incredible on my screen. I last watched the original cut back in May, and I immediately noticed the different in how crisp certain images appeared. I think the most blatant example of these improvements are the moments in Sean Penn's first sequence where he's on the skybridge/walkway, and we get several close shots of his face. You can see every blemish of his skin, and it's not even a full close-up. Really awesome job they did on this, and it made me sad that I wasn't watching it in a theater.

I don't think I prefer the extended re-cut to the original, not yet anyway. I feel more or less the same about them, and each one has its pros. (Unlike the extended cut of The New World, also from its Criterion release, which immediately became my preferred version of the film.)

If you're a Malick fan, or just thinking about picking this up, it's well worth the $40. It was more than worth the ~$25 I spent on it during the recent flash sale — so if you're strapped for cash, just wait for the B&N 50% off sale in November and treat yourself! :D

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