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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Tree of Life [Blu-ray]


(Terrence Malick, 2011)





Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Cottonwood Pictures

Video: 20th Century Fox



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:18:54.325

Disc Size: 49,346,793,140 bytes

Feature Size: 43,112,325,120 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.72 Mbps

Chapters: 25

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 11th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 5306 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 5306 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), Spanish, none



Exploring The Tree of Life (29:56 in 1080P)

'Theatrical Trailer (2:08 in 1080P)

Separate DVD disc and Digital copy disc included





Description: The impressionistic story of a Texas family in the 1950s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). Jack (played as an adult by Sean Penn) finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith.

A captivating, unmissable experience” *****--Total Film
Brad Pitt gives the strongest performance of his career”--The Telegraph
Awe-inspiring” *****--The Independent
A masterpiece” *****--The Guardian
Magnificent” *****--The Times



The Film:

There are very few films I can think of that convey the changing interior weather of a child’s mind with such fidelity and sensitivity. Nor are there many that penetrate so deeply into the currents of feeling that bind and separate the members of a family. So much is conveyed — about the tension and tenderness within the O’Brien marriage, about the frustrations that dent their happiness, about the volatility of the bonds between siblings — but without any of the usual architecture of dramatic exposition. One shot flows into another, whispered voice-over displaces dialogue, and an almost perfect domestic narrative takes shape, anchored in three extraordinarily graceful performances: Mr. Pitt, Ms. Chastain and, above all, Hunter McCracken, a first-timer who brings us inside young Jack’s restless, itching skin.

Excerpt from A.O. Scott at the NY Times located HERE

Throughout his magnum opus The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick hopscotches between past and present, from the birth of our planet to a slice of '50s Americana, where a young boy is shaped by his mother's "grace" and his father's "nature"—opposing influences that will continue, for time immemorial, to course and pummel their way through his consciousness with the force of an exploding supernova. He is, like all of us, less than a blip in the universe's timeline, and for the grownup Jack (Sean Penn)—who waltzes with depressing resignation through the chilly manse he shares with a woman he keeps at arm's length, the steely tower where he does business, and the landscape of the afterlife—this is an admission of human inconsequence.

The Tree of Life's fetching images are like glowing shards of glass, and together they form a grandiose mirror that reflects Malick's impassioned philosophical outlook. It's unquestionably this great filmmaker's most personal work, a revelation of how he came to be, why he creates, and where he feels he's going. And though it's also a highly self-absorbed vision, emotionally aloof by aesthetic design, in connecting his elliptical depiction of his own spiritual making with a customarily quizzical regard for the shape of all things, from the veins of a plant to the wrinkles of the human face, Malick is sincerely asking us to scrutinize the meaning of our own creation.

Excerpt from Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

A while back I received an email requesting a 'Top 10 Blu-ray list' of my favorite of the new medium. Any mental list I could create is always in flux. But today and perhaps this year my number one spot would be an easy choice - The Tree of Life. The appreciation is always a balance between an adept 1080P transfer and the specific film's visual attributes. In this latter regard The Tree of Life eclipses all in my recorded memory. With a high bitrate the dual-layered disc gave me a reference viewing - a large part due to the aural benefits (discussed below.) This may be the most beautifully shot film I can recall since the Blu-ray format evolved - and appropriately the image quality is... quite perfect. Grain is very fine, detail impressive and colors appear consistent and authentic supporting the exquisite art direction and interesting camera angles. There is nothing to do but allow the film's rich presentation to wash over you - there is no point seeing this in the enclosed NTSC DVD. If ever there was a film to see, in your home theater, in Blu-ray - this is it.



















Audio :



The sound track may share an equally lauded evaluation of the film's impact and the DTS-HD Master 7.1 at a whopping 5306 kbps is also reference quality. From John Tavener and Mother Thekla's “Funeral Canticle” and “Resurrection in Hades” through Gustav Mahler's “Symphony No. 1”, Zbigniew Preisner's “Lacrimosa 2”, Górecki (recall the film Fearless), Mussorgsky, Schumann, Mozart and J.S Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor plus much more - the music scales heights my system had not yet reached until The Tree of Life 'expressed' them. The audio transfer has solid range with rumbling depth (in 'The Creation' sequence) and plenty of subtle separations. Truly this is an amazing mix that will induce repeat spins in your home theater. In a word; 'Magnificent!'. There are optional English (SDH) or Spanish subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Extras :

Malick's most ambitious film offers no commentary or piecemeal analyzing but has a 1/2 hour featurette entitled Exploring The Tree of Life. It covers a lot of production ground with sound bytes from extolling director colleagues of Malick (Nolan, Fincher etc.), justly praising his abilities. Producers, including Pitt, chip in but nothing from the elusive Malick. This is worth watching and is presented in 1080P. Beyond that there is only a 2-minute 'Theatrical Trailer also in HD. There are separate Region 1 - NTSC DVD disc and a digital copy disc included in the package



I don't have anything more to say than the chorus of 'OMG's from many critics who cite The Tree of Life's essential beauty. This has a harshness that often juxtaposes the pristine quality of the visuals. This actually seems on another cinematic plane from... so much with Malick's magnum opus creating a Tarkovsky-like experience with parts of Kubrick's 2001. I can only say this is one Blu-ray that you want to own and not rent as it has immense re-visitation value. I have watched it 4 times already and am anticipating the fifth with friends. Without looking ahead this currently has my vote as Blu-ray of the year in our end poll. It has our highest recommendation... of all time. 

Gary Tooze

September 30th, 2011



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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