As we grow up, we remember little moments of our younger life. I often wonder why I remember certain things more than others. It’s not always the big events that make the biggest impact.
A scent in the room, the first recognizable feeling of elation, walking home knowing I’m going to get in trouble…these are all things I remember well. I remember the layout of the house we lived in when I was very little. I remember the smell of the thermos that had this fruit punch in it every day. I remember the feeling of wood chips between my sandals on the playground.
The beauty of recollection is that you never have the same story as everyone else who was there. You are the only one who has lived your life.
As time goes on, at parties and reunions, you realize the holes that exist between stories. Your Mom thought it was the worst day of her life but it was your best. How did that happen?
Life is so beautiful and painful all at the same time. And to think, we are emotional caged animals in suburbia afflicted with such an enormous span of possibilities good and bad. It’s like a menu list where we check off pain in childhood (check), father issues (check), loving by subdued mother (check), summertime in the grass with the sprinklers (check).
Similarly, the world around us has gone thru pain. You can chose to relish in the hellacious nature of atoms crashing into one another or you can accept life with grace and candor. The film asks you this in the first 5 minutes, literally.
Somewhere in between are all the answers as to why we are here, who we will become, and how to feel better about the way you lived your life.
Sean Penn is an older man today. He’s still having a hard time dealing with the death of his younger brother. He’s had a roller coaster relationship with his father, Brad Pitt. This is definitely not a film about the actors because you really don’t see them much. They are just future placeholders that help to tell a story about growing up.
This film takes you on a Discovery Channel-esque journey of the small moments in life from the time Sean was born. Even just a brush of a hand across your face, an annoying glare from your sibling, a kiss on the forehead, the family dinner where Dad flipped out due to stress.
Terrence Malick delivers a perfectly spliced together story of one family among millions who undergo the transformation of life. He never tells this story linearly. He forces you to already feel agitated and sabotaged as you watch the film which helps you relate to the characters. Terrence also forces you to think about what you DON’T see just as much.
The film is getting some mixed reviews; some are negative regarding Terrence’s use of universal footage of clouds, water, planetary movements, (basically anything emoting God’s great splendor and pain). He does use it for longer than you would expect and I was frustrated in parts. I think he could have shortened it and achieved the same effect.
But, this film is a true gem and has its place among thought provoking movies. We hope there’s a reason for everything we experience but then in the same breathe it’s really difficult to imagine a being (God) who is somehow coordinating all of this for a reason AND still cares about all of us equally. When we experience “life” which is a mixture of good and bad, we hope we are here because of a master plan and that one day we’ll be rectified, rewarded……and answered. But no one knows for sure.
A nuclear family is an exact mirror to the universe and how it expands, contracts, blows up, and never reveals what it truly consists of and what it will become after we’re all done here on this planet.