Does the World Need a Six-Hour “Tree of Life”?

Writer-director Terrence Mallick's "Tree of Life" was booed by many when it premiered at Cannes this year, and still went on to take the festival's top prize. And as frustrated as we were by it, we can't stop thinking about it, struck anew every time we see a clip or image from the film. But we're reasonably sure that a six-hour version is not what's needed to build a consensus on the film.

And yet, to hear cinematographer Emmanuel Lubeski tell it, that's exactly what Mallick has in mind:

"The first cut was 8 hours long. Terry is working on/preparing a 6 hours long version of the movie," Lubeski told Les Cahiers du Cinéma (via The Film Stage via Playlist). "What I’ve seen (of this) is absolutely incredible, it’s wonderful. The longer version will have to/will likely, for the most part, relate to the children part. There were outstanding things, we’ve shot many, many things about Jack’s childhood : his friends, his evolution, his changes, his awareness of the loss of his childhood… I don’t know if I’m supposed to say all of this!"

We loved every moment of the film that took place in small-town Texas, and can't help thinking that what we'd like to see is a cut of the film with none of the dinosaurs, meteors, microscopic cells or Sean Penn, all of which just got in the way of the stunning performances from Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and Hunter McCracken.

What Mallick managed to put on screen was not a story of childhood, but rather a gorgeous recollection of childhood as it exists in one's mind. No one remembers perfectly the narrative of their youth--it's all mood and moments, and that's exactly what Mallick gave us.

But the rest, the dinosaurs and such, as much as we "got" what he was trying to do and say with them, they felt like overkill. That maybe be why Mallick is concentrating on more of the Texas footage.

Of course we're gonna watch it when it comes out--even if it's still eight-hours long.

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