a guest Sep 24th, 2016 97 Never
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- ### Terrence Malick's "Tree of Life" skinned me alive.
- Once upon a time, when I was very young, I thought I was perfect. And then I realized I wasn't.
- Tree of Life starts out as a simple story of mourning within the context of a Good family with a Bad dad. Mother is the long-suffering angel, worshipped by the wild young boys. Father is overbearing and angry, to the point of violence.
- It was all very good, as a film, but then it turned and charged for my soul. The oldest boy discovers the Bad within himself. He lusts after women, he sneaks into a neighbor house and steals some lingerie, some neighbor boys goad him into throwing rocks through a window.
- The end of boys will be boys, the realization of sin. That you've always sinned, that you are the worst sinner, and that you can't stop sinning. It's a tumor, it grows on itself. It burns with no vent. It separates you, it humiliates you, it shames you. The boy can't look his mother in the eye. By being imperfect, he lost hold of the only perfect he knew.
- As the movie held a mirror up to me, I wanted to leave. I wanted to shrivel up.
- Growing up, two doors down from us lived an old man. I would sit on his porch with him and suck on an empty old pipe he gave me while he puffed on his own lit one. We'd talk, I don't remember of what.
- After he died, his son came to live in his house. I never really met his son, only knew him from afar. One day a neighbor kid and I snuck into the back yard that used to belong to the old man, now to the son. It was overgrown and unused. I'd never been in that yard when the old man was alive, and it felt forbidden now.
- In the center of the yard was a shed with logs and bricks stacked up against the side, all draped in cobwebs. On top of these stacks was a turtle shell. My friend and I took the turtle shell off the stack and set it on the ground, belly up. We grabbed sticks from the pile and bashed in its soft stomach. There was something rotten inside, green and soupy, and it smelled terrible. I think we broke some other things around the shed, but all I remember is that disgusting shell.
- And then I ran, terrified and ashamed. I had trespassed into the yard of an old, gone friend and destroyed what was most precious there.
- The next day the old man's son came over and told my dad what we'd done. I don't know how he knew it was us. I hid under the couch near the front door, listening as he talked to my dad. I can't remember if my dad pulled me out and made me face him. It might've been better that way, it might've been worse.
- I think I had to do a few days worth of yard work as restitution. But a million years of yard work could never make it up. The turtle couldn't be made whole again. My love for that old man had turned sour, spilled out as hate, and killed him all over again.
- At one point in "Tree of Life," the boy's father is doing work on the family car, laying in the driveway with the car jacked up above him. The boy contemplates killing his father. It would look like an accident, it would be very easy and quick. I think for that moment he tries to consider exactly how bad his father is, and if his father deserves death. But what he sees instead is himself. His own anger and hatred looks familiar. It looks like his dad. Murder wouldn't set him free, it would seal his fate.
- I don't think Malick succeeds in providing the answer of salvation, a legitimate victory over this cycle of sin and shame, but unlike any film I've ever seen or novel I've ever read, "Tree of Life" begs for a savior.
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