Keep us. Guide us. To the end of time.

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" Job 38:4,7 
I begin this post with the same words from where The Tree of Life (2011) began. This is slightly misleading because by no means is this a proper film review. Thankfully for those who have not seen the film yet this also means that there will be little to no spoilers hopefully unlike my last post on Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. For those who are looking for reviews, the New Yorker had a nice article on Terrence Malick and I found these two blogs who I think did the job rather nicely. I was reluctant to do this not only because I felt I was (and still am) thoroughly inadequate to do a film of this scale, but also because I had initially thought there wasn't much to talk about in terms of clothing. Mulling it over for the weeks after watching this film however, I did realize there is a little something to be said. I don't think this would be a film where we can take a literal translation from like An Education for example, but the austere focus of the clothes should be something everybody can appreciate.

The reason why I felt I would not be up to par to attempt this because I don't think I thoroughly understand the film myself. The film was ambitious in its undertaking, in its aim to try and related the passing of time to the pass of a man's life. Terrence Malick was rightly awarded the Palme d'Or in his attempt to capture "the struggle between nature and grace, the duality of man, the meaning of life, and a sense of understanding and reconciliation amidst the chaos and suffering of it all" (GoatMilkBlog) though I was wary of the film in the beginning because most of the time films that try to be intellectual and "deep" always end up with little depth and feel shallow and pretentious. This film, with its non-linear narrative sequence feels rather grandiose but manages to maintain the moral weight of the story throughout. I think there will never be a film that will sufficiently answer all of these theological questions within the 2-3 hour time frame, so I applaud Malick for attempting and to have come up with a fair, open-ended answer. For now, I don't think I will really discuss how religion works in here. I know a certain amount due to history and religion classes in high school, nonetheless I am a pragmatic agnostic who prefers G-D to stay out of my day-to-day business so I'll avoid the religious talk here. The meaning and role of it all will be open for your own interpretation. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that it does play a huge role within the narrative of the film, especially within the relationship with the father, mother and son.

For the clothes (finally!), I think what is to take away here is the utter practically of her clothes. That despite such practicality and frugalness and still be romantic without being overly matronly. Most often when we hear the the words frugal and austere in clothing, it conjures the image of stark and stiff black and white nun's habit. What Mrs O'Brien here shows that you just because you dress rather plainly and modestly, does not mean that you have to abandon all soft feminine characteristics. Her dress in this film is a great reminder that there is much beauty in simplicity and womanliness may lie more in the personal character than the actual state of dress. I look forward to seeing more of Jessica Chastain in the future, though she looks so much like Emily Browning and Gemma Artherton that I confuse them all with each other. This film might not be for everyone so I suggest see this only if you have nothing in particular to watch.

Images from Google. Drop Cap from


Amelia said...

I can't wait to see this movie. I'm so curious about it.

I really like a good layered movie and this looks great.

Jo said...

Ohh, those clothes! <3 I am seriously obsessing over each (and every!) outfit!

Lost in the Haze

Helen said...

I saw this twice in the cinema - I really liked it. It touched me, I could relate. But I do think that it's not for everyone!
Jessica Chastain was divine, but most of all I loved the kids. And the "birth of the earth"-sequence - I had to run out and buy the cd by Zbigniew Preisner with "Lacrimosa" from the soundtrack right away after coming out from the cinema.