My heart leaps up when I behold
A Rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the man;
And I wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety. – William Wordsworth
Perhaps nothing can sum up the experience of watching this modern masterpiece than the visionary poetry of the great romantic. But first thing first. I must say I have never seen something so beautiful in my life- forget the ‘Baraka’, ‘Heima’ and whatever the most beautiful thing on screen you’ve seen. Everything seems just pale compare to this height of visual treat. It takes you to the different world and gives you unforgettable unique experience; films like these are benchmark to the magic of cinema encompassing all other arts. Though I watch it on bluray digital print, I have a huge regret of missing the film on big screen. The film is modern avante garde in terms of visuals. Every frame is eye-catching wallpaper and absolutely sumptuous food of aesthetics. It gives me goose bumps in many frames, especially the tour of genesis/evolution. Emmanuel Lubezki’s graceful camera work and Jack Fisk's production designs are the benchmark for generation to follow.
Back to visionary humanitarian auteur Terrence Malick. We all know that this is his most ambitious project and he treated it with all his soul and heart at right places. It isn’t as abstract as some claimed it since it has clearly no story or plot in his two and half hours long duration. Most of the time characters utter only internal monologues based on memory. The film is spiritual journey exploring life and to decipher its true nature from eyes of poet. The root of the film is absolutely based on the Book of Job and Malick clearly gave clues in the very beginning. Characters or actors or plot are fragmentary and wisp in the wind here, since the film is about humanity in general rather than anything specific or particular. It begins with death of a beloved child and follows up with the recollections of childhood memory by the sibling brother who’s now a grown up mid age man reminiscing about those inseparable moments of memory of internal and physical growth in the life and shadows of his father and mother. Than on it takes you to the tour of life, its evolution and than fixing it to one particular family again to witness the course of life in its minute details of the growth of a child- reflecting the curiosity and innocence of child, encountering the different forms of life, witnessing deformed one and death, feeling abstract emotions of life with wonder and shocks of inscrutable nature and lord almighty. The film is absolutely spiritual experience not to be missed.
The child’s shift between the strictly disciplinarian spartan father and unconditional love of mother is quite genuine lesson to learn between our struggling confrontations between the skeptical mind and graceful heart full of faith, between logic and emotions and between the evolutionary survival of the fittest and compassionate humanity at general and like many things Malick gave clue about this too in the very beginning- “A man’s heart has heard two ways through life. The way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. It accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. It accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself and get others to please it too. It likes to lord it over them to have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it and love is smiling all through it. They taught us, that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to bad end.”
The only drawback of the film is it's length, as in the final half an hour, the film seems too stretching one and it won't give me something which i call 'a height of leap', what i found in cinema of Masters like Bresson and Tarkovsky and that's the only major or minor drawback. It maybe possible that i can change my opinion about this in my second viewing as I don’t think one can comprehend fully the film of this canvas with just a single viewing. No, it’s not because it’s too abstract and too symbolic but because it’s something so universal and timeless which maybe grows on you and opens up new vistas after witnessing it the second time.
The film of the year.