I saw Tree of Life back when I still lived in Nottingham. It was, in fact, the last movie I watched at Broadway Cinema, by far my favorite cinema in the world. I went knowing too much about the film already because of all the attention it had received, not just by the usual film critics I read but also by the theological blogosphere as well. And so I put off going to see the film in part because so many Christians had prostrated themselves in acts of piety that were only outdone in terms of awkward intersubjective embarrassment by their attempts to squeeze the movie into some pre-fabricated theological fan-fiction they feel they must repeat ad nauseum lest they fall into unbelief. Because of this I found that working up the energy to go see the film was harder than any other film I’ve gone to see.
In order to go I had to, and I’m not kidding, perform phenomenological exercises. I went under the epoche, bracketing what had become my natural attitude regarding the film. A natural attitude I can accurately describe as pure contempt (I love the French word for contempt, méprise, which I think actually, for those who can catch my citation here, bears on Tree of Life). So I went and I watched the film. I think I can even say that I watched it “so hard”. But I found after watching it that I couldn’t yet say anything about it. That would require more routing out of this natural attitude and coming to terms with what any actual critique could be beyond my contempt for the Christian theologians who had conspired – yes, it was a conspiracy! – to ruin this film for me. I think, after nearly three months of waiting I finally can express my thoughts on this film. I’m going to present this as a series of posts, which, for those who may be offended by some of my clearly polemical statements, is a witness to the seriousness with which I am giving this film. Some of these posts may deal more with the Christian theological reading of the film than the film itself, but those will be in part a defence of the movie against Christian theological overdetermination. For those who haven’t seen the film there is clearly going to be spoilers. Read the rest of this entry »