One of the previous films of , The Tree of Life included a long segment about the origins of the Universe. When I saw that movie it was not at all clear to me how that part was related to the rest of the story – a family saga developing around a complicated father – son relationship. Director Malick was so much in love with that part that he decided to abandon any fiction in his latest movie and focus on the cosmology story. The result is Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey which is listed as a documentary, although I have a hard time sticking it into that category either. Documentaries have as goal educating, or making statements about history or society or nature. Here we seem to be closer  to poetry or sophisticated video art. What counts eventually is not the category but the result.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1945228/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1945228/

 

The film starts with CGI images of the birth of the Universe combined with cosmic video art based on images of the most remote (thus the earliest) galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. It continues with images that describe or reconstruct the birth of Earth, the appearance of water and life, the evolution of plants and animals, the cosmic events (like the asteroid that almost eradicated life on Earth and put an end to the dominance and very existence of the dinosaurs), the emergence of mankind and its evolution towards the mega-cities of today, with their human mosaic and social problems. Most of the images combine fabulous nature filming with computerized effects and they are great, the story telling is visually astounding and has its own logic. I would have loved the film to be only visuals. I would have even accepted the soundtrack although I am not great fan of the world music or Gregorian chants, not when used in New Age messaging. Unfortunately decided to add a spoken commentary and I simply could not make any sense of it. Some incantations and frightened kid questions directed to an over-present Mother (Nature? a feminine God?) were repeated over and over. To be clear, I like and I understand poetry, I respect religious feelings and texts, but the spoken commentary was nothing of these. The fact that , an actress that I deeply admired borrowed her voice to read this text, did not help, it just made me mad because I feel that her huge talent was wasted here. The result is just boring, and I surprised myself almost napping despite the beauty on screen.

 

(video source Zero Media)

 

OK. So Terrence Malick wanted hardly to make a film about the history of the Universe. A Film about Everything. The Film about Everything. Now that you made it, please, Mr. Malick , come back to making the films we loved you for, films like Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line.