Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, Starring Brad Pitt, Stirs Cannes Buzz

by Brian Willett

The Tree of Life, a stirring film by writer-director Terrence Malick, has done just what every Cannes film aspires to do – create a buzz that has the entire film world talking. The Tree Of Life – Malick’s fifth film in a career that spans four decades – will debut in the United States May 27, although it’s hard to judge what the reaction will be, as the press screening found emphatic boos from some and energetic applause from others. Due to the mixed reaction, The Tree of Life has everyone at Cannes and around the film world focused on the work, and stars have stepped out to voice their opinions.

“Terry Malick is a visionary,” said Sean Penn, one of the stars of Malick’s film. “A quite extraordinary individual.”

Fellow star Brad Pitt also praised Malick’s work as well as his personality; the press-shy Malick was not in attendance and appeared to prefer that The Tree of Life stood on its own.

“People who make things in our business are then expected to sell them,” noted Brad Pitt, “And I don’t think that computes with him.”

“[Malick] wants to focus on the making of it, not the real estate, selling the real estate,” Pitt continued. “It is an odd thing for an artist to start something and then be a salesman.”

Malick is known for being an artist, as his films are deep and layered in meaning and artistry, rather than cheap writing, flashy explosions and other effects that are all too common in movies today. Pitt praised Malick’s style and said that the writer-director was always in search of meaning and truth.

“[Malick] never wanted to…hammer-and-tong a scene as it’s written,” explained Pitt, noting Malick’s penhant for spontaneity. “He was more interested in capturing what was happening on the day. He’s like a guy standing there with a butterfly net and waiting for that moment of truth to go by.”

You can explore the rest of Terrence Malick’s films right here.