It was a crowded reception at Co Co Sala for the screening of “Tree of Life” which was being hosted by the Environmental Film Festival. A few of us gathered around the movie poster for the movie which was a beautiful print covered in little square images each one a clip from the movie.
I ask the group, “what brings you here?”, and all three immediately respond: “Terrence Malick, he is a genius.” Wow, a surprising response. I wasn’t all that sure who the guy is so I probe a little. The first explained that every movie he makes is a masterpiece, going back 30 years to “Badlands” and the more recent “The Thin Red Line”.
Another discussed his experience as an extra for one of Malick’s movies. Every word from Malick’s mouth was deeply artistic and moving to the actors. He would “shoot every scene from every angle, over and over again”. Pushing the entire crew to its limits.
The last fellow shared that Malick is obsessed with light. How his movies are more an expression of light with people and plot built around it. He pointed to the movie poster and showed how every little square represented this. A display of light that tells a story, with Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, or Jessica Chastain just happening to be there.
I have to say the last fellow was spot on. The movie begins and ends with a display of light, a tiny one. Meant to represent birth, death, God, or space…I couldn’t really tell and I think that’s the point. I’ve heard that Terrence Malick is known for making surreal pieces rather than summer blockbusters.
The movie was a fascinating exploration of life at times thrilling and sad, hurtful and carefree, and not to forget the random scenes of supernova stars and dinosaurs. For anyone born in the post World War II era, it is a particularly thrilling memoir of growing up with all the nostalgia of the cars, houses, and neighborhoods from that time.
What’s even more interesting is why this major movie has come to DC.
One answer could be that the DC movie market is a powerhouse, worth the Hollywood Studios adding to the major city circuit. I did hear that we are in the top 5.
The real answer came just before the movie started when Flo Stone, the founder and president of the Environmental Film Festival, came onstage. It turns out that she knows the director and even helped him find cast and crew for The Thin Red Line.
Which isn’t all that surprising considering how well her film festival is doing. With over 30,000 attendees, 150 films, 215 film discussions, and 100 partners. It is on track to be one of the world’s best and every year it attracts top talent and big Hollywood names.
Here she was, the woman who started it all. I feel almost in awe of her, what she has done. She truly is a DC treasure and I hope she keeps up all the amazing work she is doing.
For more on the movie check out Rotten Tomatoes.
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