It was quite a 2011 for Terrence Malick. Not only did the director return with his long awaited, Palme d’Or winning “The Tree Of Life,” he’s got four films in various stages of development including the IMAX documentary “Voyage Of Time,” the untitled Ben Affleck/Rachel McAdams romance and two pictures set to shoot this year, “Lawless” and “Knight Of Cups.” And yet, with all that going on, people are still talking about “The Tree Of Life” (which has placed on many year end, Best Of lists) and it’s not hard to see why. The ambitious film’s extended creation and early life sequence is still one of the most discussed of last year, and as you might expect, there was even more that was eventually abandoned by the director in the decades long development of the project.
Storyboard artist Mark Bristol has posted a handful of storyboards and concept art from “The Tree Of Life” to his website and they are notable for all being from sequences not included in the final film. The scenes take place in Lake Turkana (believed by many to be the cradle of mankind), and features Adam and Eve, and their sons Cain, Abel and Seth. Why is this significant? As you know, the film tracks humanity’s struggle between nature and grace from the beginning of the universe, and the story of Cain and Abel is one of the most instructive thematically from the Bible. Cain commits the first murder by slaying his brother Abel, with Seth being born after the fact, and believed by Eve to be a replacement from God for Abel (though in Malick’s version, Seth and Cain appear to be alive at the time). Additionally, in Judaism, Seth is considered an ancestor of Noah, and thus the father of all mankind, since everyone is wiped out by the by flood. All this to say, it certainly would’ve been an interesting parallel to the push and pull between Jack and his two brothers in the ’50s and while we’ll likely never know if it was filmed and/or why it was cut or excised, perhaps elements of it will crop up in the rumored six hour version that Malick is putting together (though that will apparently feature more of Jack’s childhood according to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki).
All this to say it’s very good reminder of the extensive amounts of footage and scenes left on the cutting room floor. While it went by unnoticed during the summer, Movie City News — who also hipped us to the storyboards — also recently turned an eye onto Off The Coast Of Maine, a blog which back in June did a solid job of compiling images from scenes that weren’t “The Tree Of Life.” These range from glimpses we saw in the trailer for the movie as well as the plethora of images that popped up on a Russian film site earlier this year (that Fox Searchlight asked to pull, though they are still easily found) that featured shots from numerous scenes not in the movie.
Either way, it’s another piece of the puzzle to a film whose mysteries continue to unravel with each viewing. Another page from Bristol’s storyboards below, and more at his site. You can also check out his work for “The Thin Red Line” right here. Want even more ‘Tree Of Life’ extras? Off The Coast of Maine has done a good job of collecting several photos from scenes in the film that never made the final cut. A few of our favorites collaged below including an unused poster that features Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt all in the same shot.