Seven years after winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes, “The Tree of Life” continues to grow. Variety reports that Terrence Malick’s 139-minute masterwork is coming to the Criterion Collection later this year with 50 minutes of new footage, much of it revolving around the Texas family played by Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, and Sean Penn. The film’s breathtaking birth-of-the-universe sequence remains unchanged.
“Terry doesn’t see this as a director’s cut,” Criterion president Peter Becker tells Variety, adding that the original theatrical version is indeed the official “director’s cut.” “It’s a fresh view of the film that has a different rhythm and a different balance.
“There’s a kind of cloud of myth that surrounds ‘The Tree of Life,’ that somewhere there’s a long-lost five-hour cut that was never released. That’s not the case,” Becker adds. “The film that he presented in Cannes is the film that he wanted to make.”
In addition to winning the highest prize at Cannes, “The Tree of Life” was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Cinematography, Best Director, and Best Picture.
Criterion has already released Malick’s “Badlands,” “Days of Heaven,” “The Thin Red Line,” and “The New World,” but none of those releases required as much effort on the company’s part. “We have never undertaken anything this extensive or this challenging, or anything that has taken this long to achieve or required so much effort on the part of pretty much every post-production craft,” says Becker. “The only thing we didn’t do is go shoot new material.”
Though there are no plans for a theatrical release at this time, Becker says “we’ll see what the audiences demand.”