Despite the buzz surrounding his film The Tree of Life, four years in the making and his most hotly anticipated release since 2005’s The New World, Terrence Malick skipped the star-studded red carpet at its Cannes world premiere this week. But as the film’s leading man Brad Pitt said in the director’s defense at a press conference earlier, “Why should he be asked to sell his film after directing it.”
The film is not your average blockbuster, which is likely the reason it garnered boos at Cannes (but consider previously booed films Antichrist and Marie Antoinette). Metaphysical in nature, the plot explores humankind’s place in the grand scheme of things by focusing on a young boy (later in life played by Sean Penn) and his seemingly average family in 1950’s America. Throughout, the film touches on religion, the meaning of life and its beginning on earth. Complex to say the least, and not necessarily a bad thing for a feature competing for the festival’s highly prestigious Palme d’Or prize, taking place later this week.
The film’s co-producer, Bill Pohlad, has been unequivocal in his support of the film. Even if he wasn’t initially sure about working on it, he was persuaded after learning of Malick’s writing style. “I think it can be seen as a great piece of art and it won’t be the same thing to everybody,” say Pohlad, attempting to sum up the film, itself a summation of the story of the universe. “When creating a film sometimes you lose perspective.”