Terrence Malick, “The Tree of Life,” and Emerson

September 23, 2015 § 1 Comment

Malick’s transparent eyeball? [scene from “Tree of Life”]

For some thoughts on Terrence Malick’s creative and philosophical relations to Emerson, particularly with regard to his film “Tree of Life,” read this article on “American Transcendentalism and ‘The Tree of Life’.”

A scholar at Oregon State University wrote a Master’s Thesis on the subject: “The Soul Announces Itself: Terrence Malick’s Emersonian Cinema.”

There is also this Cinephile review of “Tree of Life” that connects it to Emerson and Transcendentalism.

In discussion of Emerson’s “Experience,” and ways that we might think of Malick’s film as his version of “Experience,” borrowing the plot, so to speak, of the essay, with the mother as the voice of Emerson, I also mentioned a book of essays about rethinking funerals, and questioning some of the conventions we have around death. The book is Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty.

After class, another book, a novel, came to mind as potentially Emersonian, or at least, related in its exploration of the grieving process, of thriving by casualties. It is Enon by Paul Harding.


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§ One Response to Terrence Malick, “The Tree of Life,” and Emerson

  • Drew Reed says:

    I actually didn’t think of the connection to Emerson when I was watching “The Tree of Life.” I’ll have to go back and watch it and read this essay. Do you know if Malick has mentioned transcendentalism in any interviews or in his past work?

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