Directed by Terrence Malick
Country: USA / France / Germany
The philosophical viewpoint about the origins and meaning of life by the respected American director Terrence Malick can be truly awesome or extremely boring, depending on your ability to deal with the material. If the fictional existential drama “The Tree of Life” was a deeply intimate experience, his documentary “Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey”, despite graphically stunning, got me twisting in my seat from boredom and melancholy.
The imagery is a collage of interspersed segments that comprises animal activity in its most diverse forms, jaw-dropping landscapes in its pristine beauty, colorful cosmic flare-ups such as the Big Bang, a few extravagant prehistoric fantasies, and variegated human interaction that sometimes feels tense and depressing in its cruel reality, and other times joyful and peaceful regardless the backdrop.
The experimental posture allied with the sparse and humdrum narration by Cate Blanchett, whose physical presence is far more pungent than her voice, made me fall into a somnolent state. The poetic intonations are so characteristic of the filmmaker’s late works, and identical word cadences can be found in “To the Wonder” and “Knight of Cups”. The same is valid for the typical dreamlike atmosphere that worked at some point, but becomes tedious along the way.
Metaphysical questions are uttered softly and monotonously: “Nature, who am I to you?”, “Mother, where are you? Where have you gone?”, “So much joy! Why not always?", while the parsimonious answers are of the following kind: “Life. Restless. Unsatisfied.”
I believe that Malick’s insistence on sounding theoretical and composed is starting to divide his fans. His filmmaking signature and patterned methodology are unique, and yet, I miss that fluid line of thought that turned “The Tree of Life” and “The Thin Red Line” into dramas of choice.
In a stoic way, dream and reality mix to take us on a voyage that doesn’t add absolutely anything to what we are, think, or feel about nature and our existence.
The director devised another version of the film for Imax, shortened to 45 minutes and narrated by Brad Pitt. By taking into account this theatrical stumble and the crushing disappointment that came with it, I’m reluctant in checking out the alternative version.