At the tail end of her 6.25 story about the convulsing fortunes of MGM, Lionsgate, the Weinstein Co. and Apparition, Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson dropped a grenade blast: “Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life may not make it to the Venice Film Festival after all, I hear.”
After being buzzed for Cannes 2010 and then dropping off that radar screen four or five weeks before the festival began? Despite having begun filming in the spring of ’08 and Malick having been in editing for…what, at least 20 months? Despite assurances last April from a post-production source that Malick had recently “screened it to an audience of about thirty, and it’s literally 97% done…our boss was able to see it, and called it the best film of [Malick’s] since Badlands” and that “it will not make Cannes [because] the visual effects aren’t done…the reason for the delay in post is because of the amount of detail [that] IMAX 70 mm requires.”
The idea was for The Tree of Life to have its preem at the Venice Film Festival and then the Toronto Film Festival, followed by a theatrical debut in November. And now there’s a possibility that Malick may blow off the early September film festival triumvirate of Venice, Telluride and Toronto? Doesn’t a possibly challenging film like this (a dysfunctional domestic drama mixed with a dinosaur sequence) need the acclaim of film festival critics to start the ball rolling? They can’t just open it with trailers and TV ads and hope for the best.
Ten months ago I wrote the following:
“I was talking about the dino aspect with a journalist friend a couple of weeks ago, and we were both shaking our heads and acknowledging what a bizarre mind-fuck Tree of Life sounds like. On paper at least. And it’s not like I’m blowing the dinosaur thing out of proportion because there’s some kind of Tree of Life-related IMAX dinosaur movie due in 2010 that will augment or expand on some theme that’s expressed within the parameters of the Sean Penn-Brad Pitt story. Right? I’m just trying to sound like I have a clue.
“All I know is that it’s one hell of a transition to go from a story of angry, pained, frustrated people in the 1950s as well as the present and then to somehow disengage the spacecraft and travel into another realm entirely (like Keir Dullea did in 2001: A Space Odyssey when he soared through Jupiter space), and somehow float into a world that is pre-historical and pre-human, and have this time-trip somehow add to our understanding and feeling for the sad/angry/bitter people in the Pitt-Penn realm.
“I mean, if someone like me is scratching his head and going ‘what the fuck…?’ over the unusualness of a ’50s domestic drama mixed with footage of prehistoric beasts , imagine what Joe Popcorn is going to think or say. Don’t even talk about the Eloi.”