With all the attention being showered on Terrence Malick‘s “The Tree Of Life” it’s easy to forget that his latest endeavor puts the “art” firmly in “arthouse” and despite the star power behind the film, it’s very much Malick’s camera and thematic ambition that is the central focus of the film. While the story does (eventually) center on a coming-of-age and the troubled relationship between a young boy and his father, before we get there, Malick takes viewers through the creation of the universe, a stunning, gorgeous sequence that takes up much of the first third of the film. To help accurately capture what the cosmos might have looked when the world as we know it was shaped, Malick enlisted visual effects legend Douglas Trumbull.
“We worked with chemicals, paint, fluorescent dyes, smoke, liquids, CO2, flares, spin dishes, fluid dynamics, lighting and high speed photography to see how effective they might be,” Trumbull told Cinematography (via Wired). “It was a free-wheeling opportunity to explore, something that I have found extraordinarily hard to get in the movie business. Terry didn’t have any preconceived ideas of what something should look like. We did things like pour milk through a funnel into a narrow trough and shoot it with a high-speed camera and folded lens, lighting it carefully and using a frame rate that would give the right kind of flow characteristics to look cosmic, galactic, huge and epic.”
All that is to say it looks absolutely unbelievable and if Malick’s gestating documentary “Voyage Of Time” is going to be a feature-length version of this kind of material, we can’t wait to sit down and let it sweep over us. For now, get a taste of what Malick, Trumbull and their team have conjured after the jump. “The Tree Of Life” is in limited release and opens nationwide on July 8th.