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June 30, 2011


Roger Ariew

I saw the film in Paris, just as it received the Palme d'or at Cannes. People walked out of the theater. I'm not sure whether I liked he film, but at least it kept me thinking about it. What I really didn't like was the trailer which juxtaposes the way of nature with the way of grace. When I experienced the film, I kept thinking that Nature was Spinozistic; it just didn't care. We are dust. The juxtaposition wasn't with grace, but with our providing our own meaning. The beautiful religious music, the selected memories, etc., all that was what the characters (and the director) brought to the uncaring silent Nature. I don't know whether hat was Malick's intent or whether It's what I brought to the film, but thinking of it that way made me like it more. It certainly is an ambitious film. --Roger

Stefano Da Fre

Dearest Justin,

Saw this film at the Cannes Film Festival 1 month ago. I was there. in the audience when it premiered.

I must say that your depictions at least in the scope of cinematic intentions by malick, are on the money. yes. he is closer to a cinematic development of cosmogenesis more so than any other director in hollywood.

Many people i know don't like this film. i really couldn't give a shit. to me, this film as a personal as a prayer. and its ability to transcend human centric universalit, even its a attempt, the sheer attempt, is magical.

i think people who don t like this film, don't need to see it again. or talk about it. or clatter themselves or others who like it with the inundation of pro's and con's. this film is about experience. and discovery. if you didn't discover anything the first time. then watch something else.

lots of love ,
Stefano Da FRe

Scott Inglett

While watching I couldn't stop thinking of/feeling this portion of a poem I once wrote for my father. I left the theater deeply stirred.

Strange to see you like this after that long agonizing ride, 

Unconscious. Quiet.

Your heart unraveling inside.

I couldn't drive for all the sobbing and the need to lose myself in the night. 
Thinking of death and the grave.

Not morbid thoughts, but thoughts to challenge my days. 

And questions.

For instance: where will you be after you're gone?

I once thought "nowhere" in the strictest sense of the word. 

But now I'm no longer so sure.

I've walked in old grief an open question, from dusk to midnight to dawn.

Thinking muddy thoughts, big picture involutions, 

Spending evenings in books, in silent conversations, with scientists, poets, and philosophers, 

I know you've wondered at it all. 

But I have found something father, 

Something strange and troubling, and often fearful, 

I've discovered the god inside, 

The only word I can find to describe it though certain to strain belief.

The is made manifest in the whirl of an I, 

Without expectation, as I found it tonight, lost in the black outside.

A sense of presence,

Of expansion about the sky.

It's an old old story isn't it?

I no longer know what you believe.

I'd ask you if I could. 
But if I'm right, there's no need. 

There's no me, no you, but only a single I, 

Caught in a net of gems. 

Goodbye father.

I see that your body has died.

Jay Klein

Interesting post. What is it that makes these ideas best explicated with images rather than voiceovers or dialogue?

Also, I'm curious what you think of this review of the film?



You forgot the part where the movie wasn't even close to entertaining


After watching this film, I walked out of the cinema in a daze, or maybe a sense of detached awareness, walking through the centre of Glasgow as if it were a place I didn't recognise. I think this was a film that you had to _work_ to view. Like viewing a fantastic painting or sculpture, that you don't just look at but engage with - you question it, it questions you. The images in this film were wonderful, yes, the cosmic 'birth of the universe' sequence, but even more so the family in Texas - fantastic shot of the mother gesturing to her first baby and the image of her hands in the mirror - definitely an image that could be dredged up as an early childhood memory. So many images that were not cliched, but genuine in their simultaneous mundane-ness/strangeness. The children in this film were extraordinary - so many camera shots were so close-up and intimate, and yet I never got the sense that the children were 'acting'. This was not a plot-driven film, but a meditation. I am not a Christian but I loved that this film was so reinforced by a strong sense of merciful, questioning Christianity, while its filmic 'interlude' was the process of evolution - with which so many American fundamentalist Christians seem to have such a big problem. Only criticism: ditch the dinosaurs, all of 'em.

Lawrence Stuart

It's not philosophy, it's a film. And it is as much a meditation on the narrative possibilities of the medium as it is anything else.

As a film it is a very beautiful thing indeed. I don't think I could tell you what it "means," but I could certainly attest to its power to move me. I will be disursively digesting this beautiful thing for a very, very long time. All Malik's films, the images, the sounds, the music, and yes, even bits of the voice overs, have a way of burrowing deeply into my psyche. They form an important part of my own feeble attempts to narrativize the unknowable.

Loved the poem up yonder, by the way.

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