The Tree of Life (2011)

PG-13 | 138 mins | Drama | 2011

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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HISTORY

       The film begins with the following written prologue from Job 38:4,7 : “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?... When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Onscreen credits are at the end of the picture.
       On 31 Aug 2005, HR reported that The Tree of Life was in its first stages of development, with Donald Rosenfeld as producer and the India-based company Percept Picture Co. executive producing. Terrence Malick was negotiating to write and direct the film and Colin Farrell, who starred in Malick’s The New World (2005, see entry), which was in postproduction at the time, was selected to play the lead role. The news item stated that portions of the film were scheduled to be shot in India and that principal photography was set to begin Jan 2006. Sahara One Motion Pictures, also based in Mumbai, India, was listed as a partner in the project. A 6 Sep 2005 HR news item stated Sarah Green, who produced The New World , and Grant Hill were also set as producers.
       According to Var on 9 Sep 2009, producer Bill Pohlad heard an early pitch for The Tree of Life from Malick in 2004 while they were both involved with developing Che (2008, see entry). Although Pohlad initially thought the idea was “crazy,” his company, River Road Productions, took over the project after his friendship with Malick evolved and, as stated in DV on 9 Dec 2009, Malick delivered a “fleshed ... More Less

       The film begins with the following written prologue from Job 38:4,7 : “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?... When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Onscreen credits are at the end of the picture.
       On 31 Aug 2005, HR reported that The Tree of Life was in its first stages of development, with Donald Rosenfeld as producer and the India-based company Percept Picture Co. executive producing. Terrence Malick was negotiating to write and direct the film and Colin Farrell, who starred in Malick’s The New World (2005, see entry), which was in postproduction at the time, was selected to play the lead role. The news item stated that portions of the film were scheduled to be shot in India and that principal photography was set to begin Jan 2006. Sahara One Motion Pictures, also based in Mumbai, India, was listed as a partner in the project. A 6 Sep 2005 HR news item stated Sarah Green, who produced The New World , and Grant Hill were also set as producers.
       According to Var on 9 Sep 2009, producer Bill Pohlad heard an early pitch for The Tree of Life from Malick in 2004 while they were both involved with developing Che (2008, see entry). Although Pohlad initially thought the idea was “crazy,” his company, River Road Productions, took over the project after his friendship with Malick evolved and, as stated in DV on 9 Dec 2009, Malick delivered a “fleshed out” script.
       An HR news item on 30 Oct 2007 announced actors Heath Ledger and Sean Penn were negotiating with River Road Entertainment for roles in The Tree of Life and principal photography was scheduled to begin in Mar 2007. HR noted that the plans to shoot in India and Farrell’s involvement in the picture had ended. Percept Picture Co. was not mentioned by HR .
       On 19 Dec 2007, DV announced that Brad Pitt was in negotiations with River Road to replace Ledger. The report noted that Pitt recently departed from his role in Universal Pictures’ State of Play (2009, see entry), in which he was slated to earn $20 million, to sign on to The Tree of Life for almost no money upfront. Pohlad stated in DV on 9 Dec 2011 that Ledger made the decision to leave on his own accord and Pitt, who was already involved with the film as a producer, seemed an obvious choice for a replacement. A 16 Apr 2008 DV news item reported that Jessica Chastain had been added to the cast and the production recently started in Texas.
       According to studio production notes from AMPAS library files, the roles of the three young “O’Brien” brothers, “Young Jack,” “R.L.” and “Steve” were played by non-actors who were selected from over 10,000 children. The filmmakers spent a year scouting for the roles. Malick intentionally did not ask the boys read from a script during their auditions and kept the scope of the film undisclosed to enhance their authenticity. Malick allowed the boys’ natural personalities to inform their onscreen characters.
       As stated in production notes and in a LAT article on 15 Dec 2011, locations included Austin and Houston, Texas, the Matagorda Bay Nature Park in Texas, Mono Valley and Death Valley in California, the Goblin Valley and Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and the Colorado River at the Gulf of Mexico. The primary location was Smithville, TX, forty miles southeast of Austin that offered a sharp contrast to the urban scenes shot in Houston, according to production notes.
       Production designer Jack Fisk selected Smithville because it captured a “universal” sense of nostalgia. Fisk told LAT that his aesthetic inspiration for the film was the sparse and sentimental artwork of Edward Hopper. He noted that the production crew took over five blocks of the town and removed trees, fences and metal buildings from the area surrounding the central location of the “O’Brien’s” house to create a visceral sense of open space and simple living. The crew also brought a 60,000-pound live oak tree to the site. Fisk said that it took his team two days to move the tree five miles. Phone and cable lines were temporarily removed along the road to make space for the tree’s thirty-foot branches. The most challenging aspect of designing the film, Fisk noted, was building a child’s bedroom out of metal and plastic to be suspended upside down in a swimming pool. A 14 May 2011 LAT article reported that three identical houses were created on location so Malick could shift from one to another depending on how the light changed. The director refrained from using artificial lighting.
       Fisk, who was Malick’s colleague at the American Film Institute in the late 1960s, told NYT on 22 May 2011 that Malick’s story for The Tree of Life was highly personal. Although the director refuses interviews and is notoriously private, the article noted that the film corresponds with known biographical information about Malick, including a childhood in Texas and the death of a brother. The Tree of Life was Malick’s fifth film to be produced during his career of nearly forty years.
       Malick’s naturalistic and documentary-style directing method, as described by Fisk and various contemporary sources, including LAT on 15 Dec 2011 also translated into the visual effects designed by Douglas Trumbull. Trumbull was renowned for his work on films such as 2001: A Space Oddysey (1968, see entry) but had not worked in Hollywood for many years. According to production notes, Malick consulted with Trumbull when he first conceptualized the script, and Trumbull found Malick’s inclination toward naturalistic rather than computer-generated imagery attractive in persuading him to return to filmmaking. The depiction of the creation of the universe, the formation of the earth, the age of dinosaurs, the ice age and other visual effects were crafted from a combination of hand drawings and computer graphics. Trumbull stated that the authenticity of the scenes was created by super-imposing “synthetic” effects into real world locations.
       An NYT article on 22 May 2011 described Trumball and Malick’s experimental process. At a lab in Austin, Texas, Malick’s hometown, the filmmakers mixed paints and liquids at high speeds in water tanks, then photographed them in order to create images that evoked “astronomical phenomena.” Malick consulted with scientists all over the world to confirm that the films’ imagery accurately represented current scientific theories.
       As reported in HR on 7 Aug 2009, Pohlad teamed with distribution executive Bob Berney to create the company Apparition to release The Tree of Life . Apparition contracted with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group for domestic rights to the film. On 8 Sep 2010, however, DV reported that Pohlad was forced to find another distributor due to the downsizing of his company and, according to HR on 10 Sep 2010, the resignation of Berney. DV noted that even though the film was ready for release in 2010, it was not complete in time for festival screenings in Venice, Telluride and Toronto and therefore it was likely to be held back until 2011. HR announced that Fox Searchlight acquired the picture and was waiting a year to release it. A 27 May 2011 article in LAT about Fox Searchlight’s challenges in marketing the film, including its unconventional narrative and its reclusive director, noted that the distributor acquired the film without an upfront cash payment.
       A 28 Apr 2011 DV news item reported that River Road and Fox Searchlight’s decision to launch the film at Cannes in 2011 lead to a legal dispute with its United Kingdom distributor, Icon. As stated, Icon was not pleased by an early cut of the film that was screened in the summer of 2010, but they were contractually obligated to distribute it in the U.K. if it was ready by 4 May 2011. When the film was held back for a World Premiere in Cannes on 16 May 2011, Icon argued that they were no longer required to uphold the deal. According to HR on 7 Jan 2012 the arbitrators ruled against Icon, ordering the company to pay over $1.2 million for their failure to distribute the picture. Icon, in return, accused the arbitrator of bias and filed a lawsuit in California federal court.
       Although The Tree of Life was received with extreme reactions from the audience at its premiere in Cannes, inciting both boos and applause according to various contemporary sources including HR on 17 May 2011 and LAT on 7 Jul 2011, the film won the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or. As stated in LAT on 31 May 2011, The Tree of Life ’s impressive gross of $488,920 from its limited, four theater release Memorial Day weekend encouraged Fox Searchlight to expand into a larger market. Even though Fox Searchlight had been cryptic and scant in their publicity for the film, as noted in Wall Street Journal on 13 May 2011, the opening marked the company’s best premiere for a limited release and the best opening for a Malick picture, according to LAT . However, various sources reported that the film continued to evoke polarized responses from audiences, and according to LAT on 7 Jul 2011, high numbers of people walked out and demanded refunds. LAT wrote on 31 May 2011 that despite the film’s critical acclaim, its lack of dialogue and untraditional plot were a hard sell to mainstream audiences.
       The Tree of Life was selected as one of AFI’s Top 10 Movies of the Year for 2011. It was nominated for three Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Picture, Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki) and Directing (Malick). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Dec 2007.
---
Daily Variety
16 Apr 2008.
---
Daily Variety
9 Dec 2009.
---
Daily Variety
8 Dec 2010.
---
Daily Variety
28 Apr 2011.
---
Daily Variety
17 May 2011
p. 1, 11.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 2005.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Sep 2005.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 2007.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 2009.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Sep 2010.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 2011.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 May 2011
p. 64.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jan 2012.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 May 2011.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 May 2011.
---
Los Angeles Times
31 May 2011.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Jul 2011.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Dec 2011.
---
New York Times
22 May 2011.
---
New York Times
27 May 2011
p. 1.
Variety
9 Sep 2009.
---
Wall Street Journal
13 May 2011.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d unit 1st asst dir
Underwater unit 1st asst dir
Key 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
Co-exec prod
Co-exec prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog, Italy unit
New York photog
Versailles photog
2d unit photog
2d unit photog
2d unit photog
Underwater unit photog
Aerial photog
Cam op/Steadicam
Addl steadicam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam loader
Asst to Mr. Lubezki
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Grip
Grip
Cam equip
New York
Lighting/Grip equip
Raw stock provided by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Art prod asst
Art dept prod asst
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed/1st asst ed
Assoc ed
2d asst ed
Avids
Negative cutter
Negative cutter, Magic Film & Video Works
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
On-set dresser
Constr coord
Constr foreman
Lead scenic
Lead greens
Sculptor
Prop master
Prop asst
Prop asst
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Asst cost des
Set cost
Seamstress
Addl cost
Addl cost
Addl cost
Cost prod asst
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond/Orch/Programming
Rec and mixed at
Rec and mixed at
Sd eng
Sd eng
Booth prod
Mus preparation
Mus preparation
Mus preparation
Mus preparation
Programming
Scoring mus ed
Mus supv
Mus coord
Mus legal
SOUND
Supv sd ed/Sd des
Addl sd des
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd utility
Sd utility
Supv re-rec mixer
Addl re-rec mixer
Addl re-rec mixer
Co-supv sd ed/Sound des
Dial supv
ADR supv
Dial ed
Dial ed
Addl sd ed
Addl sd ed
Addl sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley rec mixer
Foley rec mixer
Foley rec asst
Foley rec asst
Foley asst
Re-rec eng
Mix tech
Mix stages
Dolby sd consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Senior visual eff supv
Visual eff consultant
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff tech
Digital eff supv
Visual eff coord
Visual eff coord
Visual eff prod asst
Visual eff prod asst
Plate supv
Plate set surveyor
Plate set surveyor
Character anim
Character anim
Digital artist
Digital artist
Digital artist
Digital artist
Concept artist
Concept artist
Natural realm visual eff
Senior visual eff supv, Prime Focus VFX
Visual eff supv, Prime Focus VFX
Visual eff supv, Prime Focus VFX
Anim supv, Prime Focus VFX
Visual eff prod, Prime Focus VFX
Digital supv, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
3D artist, Prime Focus VFX
2D artist, Prime Focus VFX
2D artist, Prime Focus VFX
2D artist, Prime Focus VFX
2D artist, Prime Focus VFX
2D artist, Prime Focus VFX
2D artist, Prime Focus VFX
2D artist, Prime Focus VFX
2D artist, Prime Focus VFX
2D artist, Prime Focus VFX
2D artist, Prime Focus VFX
2D artist, Prime Focus VFX
2D artist, Prime Focus VFX
Coord, Prime Focus VFX
Coord, Prime Focus VFX
Coord, Prime Focus VFX
Coord, Prime Focus VFX
Systems support, Prime Focus VFX
Systems support, Prime Focus VFX
Systems support, Prime Focus VFX
Astrophysical realm visual eff
Visual eff supv, Double Negative
Visual eff prod, Double Negative
2D supv, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Digital artist, Double Negative
Visual eff coord, Double Negative
Visual eff ed, Double Negative
Col supv, Double Negative
Studio, Double Negative
Studio, Double Negative
Studio, Double Negative
Res and development, Double Negative
Res and development, Double Negative
Res and development, Double Negative
Res and development, Double Negative
Res and development, Double Negative
Res and development, Double Negative
Microbial realm vis eff
Microbial realm visual eff, One of Us
Microbial realm visual eff, One of Us
Microbial realm visual eff, One of Us
Microbial realm visual eff, One of Us
Microbial realm visual eff, One of Us
Microbial realm visual eff, One of Us
Microbial realm visual eff, One of Us
Microbial realm visual eff, One of Us
Microbial realm visual eff, One of Us
Element photog unit, One of Us
Element photog unit, One of Us
Element photog unit, One of Us
Element photog unit, One of Us
Element photog unit, One of Us
Element photog unit, One of Us
Addl visual eff
Addl visual eff, Method Studios
Addl visual eff, Method Studios
Addl visual eff, Method Studios
Addl visual eff, Method Studios
Addl visual eff, Method Studios
Addl visual eff, Method Studios
Addl visual eff
Addl visual eff, Evil Eye Pictures
Addl visual eff, Evil Eye Pictures
Addl visual eff, Evil Eye Pictures
Addl visual eff, Evil Eye Pictures
Addl visual eff, Evil Eye Pictures
Addl visual eff, Evil Eye Pictures
Scientific visualization
University of Illinois
Prod/Des, National Center for Supercomputing Appli
Visualization des, National Center for Supercomput
Res programmer, National Center for Supercomputing
Res programmer, National Center for Supercomputing
Res programmer, National Center for Supercomputing
Science reference imagery, National Center for Sup
Pop III star simulations by
Pop III star simulations by
Pop III star simulations by
Pop III star simulations by
Pop III star simulations by
Space images conceived by
Author of "Beyond and Far Out"
Based in part on data processed by
From the Palomar Observatory, The Digitized Sky Survey, Caltech
Saturn space seq based in part on data processed b
From the Cassini mission to Saturn
Fluid painting seqs created by
Image Quest 3-D
Fluid painting seqs created by
Image Quest 3-D
Dinosaur maquettes des and created by
Selective image processing by
Opus 161 by
courtesy of Clavilux.org, Eugene Epstein and AJ Epstein
Main and end titles des and prod by
Main and end titles des and prod by, Prologue Film
Main and end titles des and prod by, Prologue Film
Main and end titles des and prod by, Prologue Film
Main and end titles des and prod by, Prologue Film
Main and end titles des and prod by, Prologue Film
MAKEUP
Dept head makeup
Makeup artist to Mr. Pitt
Dept head hair
Asst hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting assoc
Local casting asst
Local casting asst
Key artistic consultant
Artistic consultant
Line prod
Line prod, Italy unit
Exec in charge of prod
Consultant
Post prod consultant
Natural history prod
Natural history prod
Natural history consultant
Scr supv
Post prod supv
Post prod supv
Post prod coord
Post prod coord
Post prod asst
Post prod asst
Post prod asst
Post prod asst
Post prod asst
Unit pub
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
Payroll accountant
Accounting clerk
Post prod accountant
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Key asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr, Houston
Loc scout
Loc scout
Western tour prod supv
Western tour asst loc mgr
Prod secy
Office prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Res coord
Asst res coord
Asst to Ms. Green
Prod asst to Ms. Green
Asst to Mr. Pohlad
Asst to Ms. Gardiner
Asst to Mr. Pitt
Asst to Mr. Hill
Asst to Mr. Gonda
Prod asst to Mr. Malick
Post prod asst to Mr. Malick
Post prod asst to Mr. Malick
Asst to Mr. Penn
Asst to Mr. Penn
Animal wrangler
Asst chef
Asst chef
Asst chef
Craft service
Catering
Set medic
Set teacher
Set teacher
Organ/Piano coach to Mr. Pitt
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Picture car coord
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Prod services, Italy unit
President, For River Road Entertainment
Financial officer, For River Road Entertainment
Head of business affairs, For River Road Entertain
Accounting exec, For River Road Entertainment
Prod coord, For River Road Entertainment
Bus affairs coord, For River Road Entertainment
Creative coord, For River Road Entertainment
Development financing by
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Insurance
Insurance, CMM Entertainment
Insurance, CMM Entertainment
Prod attorney
Prod attorney
Prod attorney
Prod banking services
International sales and distribution by
STAND INS
Organist double
Hand double for Mr. Pitt
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Digital intermediate by
Digital intermediate, EFILM
Digital intermediate, EFILM
Digital intermediate, EFILM
Digital intermediate, EFILM
Digital intermediate, EFILM
Digital intermediate, EFILM
Digital motion picture laboratory
Digital motion picture laboratory, Laser Pacific
Digital motion picture laboratory, Laser Pacific
Visual eff col correction services by
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Funeral Canticle," written by John Tavener and Mother Thekla, performed by Geroge Mosley, Paul Goodwin and the Academy of Ancient Music, courtesy of Harmonia Mundi USA
"Cosmic Beam Take 5," written and performed by Francesco Lupica, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
"Symphony No. 1," written by Gustav Mahler, performed by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Halasz, courtesy of Naxos, by arrangement with Source/Q
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MUSIC
"Funeral Canticle," written by John Tavener and Mother Thekla, performed by Geroge Mosley, Paul Goodwin and the Academy of Ancient Music, courtesy of Harmonia Mundi USA
"Cosmic Beam Take 5," written and performed by Francesco Lupica, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
"Symphony No. 1," written by Gustav Mahler, performed by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Halasz, courtesy of Naxos, by arrangement with Source/Q
"Morning Prayers," written by Giya Kanchelli, courtesy of ECM Records
"Faunophonia Balkanica," written, performed and produced by Arsenije Jovanovic, courtesy of Arsenije Jovanovic
"Wind Pipes," written and performed by Michael Baird
courtesy of SWP Records
"Approaching," written, performed and produced by Arsenije Jovanovic, courtesy of Arsenije Jovanovic
"Ta Ha 1," written and performed by Klaus Wiese, courtesy of Aquamarin Verlog GmbH, Germany
"Snapshot from the Island," written and performed by Tibor Szemzo
"Lacrimosa 2," composed by Zbigniew Preisner, performed by Elzbieta Towarnicka (soprano) and the Sinfonia Varsovia and the Varsor Chamber Choir, conducted by Jacek Kaspszyk, courtesy of New Music B. V.
"Troops Advance in Grass," written and performed by Francesco Lupica and Lee Scott, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
"Ascending and Descending," written by David Hykes, performed by David Hykes and The Harmonic Choir, courtesy of Harmonic Presence Foundation
"Resurrection in Hades," written by John Tavener and Mother Thekla, performed by Joseph Jennings and the Chanticleer Choir and Chorus, courtesy of Warner Classics, by arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
"Berlioz: 7, Domine Jesu Christe [Requiem Op. 5 (Grande Messe des mortis)]," performed by Wandsworth School Boys Choir, London Symphony Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis, courtesy of Decca Music Group Ltd., under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Siciliana Da Antiche Danze Ed Arie Suite III," written by Ottorino Respighi, performed by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, conducted by Rico Saccani, courtesy of Naxos, by arrangement with Source Q
"Hymn to Dionysus," composed by Gustav Holst, performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, courtesy of Unicorn-Kanchana Records
"My Country - Vltava (The Moldau)," composed by Bedrich Smetana, performed by Vaclav Smetacek and The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, courtesy of SUPRAPHON
"Brahms 2. Audante moderato [Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98]," performed by Berliner Philharmoniker and Herbert von Karajan, courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Symphony No. 3, Op. 36," written by Henryk Górecki, Jerzy Lisowski and Wilhelm Szewczyk, performed by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Antoni Wit, courtesy of Naxos, by arrangement with Source/Q
"Pièces de clavecin, Book II 6 Ordre No5: Les Barricades Mistérieuses," written by Francois Couperin (1668-1733), performed by Angela Hewitt, courtesy of Hyperion Records Ltd.
"J.S. Bach: Fugue [Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565]," performed by Helmut Walcha, courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg, under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"The Well-Tempered Clavier," written by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by Jenő
Jandó, courtesy of Naxos, by arrangement with Source/Q
"Pièces de clavecin, Book II 6 Ordre No5: Les Barricades Mistérieuses," written by Francois Couperin (1668-1733), performed by Hanan Townshend, courtesy of Hanan Townshend
"Hymn 87: Welcome Happy Morning," performed by Hanan Townshend, courtesy of Hanan Townshend
"Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade - The Tuileries - Bydlo (Piano Version)," performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy, courtesy of Decca Music Group Ltd., under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Schumann: 1. Allegro affettuoso [Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54]," performed by Martha Argerich, Gewandhausorchester, Leipzig, Riccardo Chailly, courtesy of Decca Music Group Ltd., under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Klangschalen 2," written and performed by Klaus Wiese, courtesy of Akasha, Germany
"Eternal Pulse," written and performed by Hanan Townshend, courtesy of Hanan Townshend
"After the Rain: Antiphon," written by Barry Guy, performed by Richard Hickox and the City of London Sinfonia, courtesy of NMC Recordings
"Harold in Italy," written by Hector Berlioz, performed by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Yoav Talmi," courtesy of Naxos, by arrangement with Source/Q
"Piano Sonata No. 16 in C Major K.545," composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by Jim Lynch
"Siciliana Da Autiche Danze Ed Arie Suite III," written by Ottorino Respighi, performed by Hanan Townshend, courtesy of Hanan Townshend
"Berlioz: 10. Agnus Dei [Requiem, Op. 5 (Grande Messe des Morts)]," performed by Wandsworth School Boys Choir, London Symphony Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis," courtesy of Decca Music Group Ltd., under license from Universal Music Enterprises
"Lacrimosa 2," written by Zbigniew Preisner, performed by Hanan Townshend, courtesy of Hanan Townshend
"Sound Testament of Mount Atbos," written, performed and produced by Arsenije Jovanovic, courtesy of Arsenije Jovanovic
"Ma Maison," written, performed and produced by Arsenije Jovanovic, courtesy of Arsenije Jovanovic.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
2011
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 27 May 2011
Copyright Claimants:
Cottonwood Pictures, LLC Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Dates:
27 May 2011 27 May 2011
Copyright Numbers:
PA1734804 PA1734804
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby® Digital; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound® in selected theatres
Color
Deluxe
Prints
Deluxe
Duration(in mins):
138
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
46031
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Mrs. O'Brien swings on a tree swing in her suburban front yard. Next, she is inside, serving dinner to her husband, Mr. O'Brien, and her three pre-teen boys; Jack, R.L. and Steve. After dinner, the parents play with their boys outside. Flashing forward, an older, dowdier Mrs. O'Brien cries hysterically after reading a hand-delivered letter. She calls her husband, who is working at an airfield. He can barely stand up after receiving the news. Later, wandering aimlessly around their neighborhood, Mrs. O'Brien tells her husband, "I just want to die and be with him." Inside, she stares at her dead son's guitar, which sits in his room. Further into the future, a now adult Jack awakes from a dream of walking on the beach. He lights a candle and thinks about growing up and playing with his brothers. At work at a downtown office building, Jack calls his father to apologize for an earlier argument they had over his deceased brother. Again, Jack dreams he's in the desert, running among the rocky cliffs before coming to a dock on the shore. At the beginning of time, a volcano erupts and jellyfish swim in the sea. A small, sickly dinosaur lies on the bank of a river. Another dinosaur steps gingerly on the dying creature's head before moving on. Then, an asteroid hits the Earth and the planet is covered in ice. Jack walks on the ice. Flashing back, a much younger Mr. O'Brien romances his future wife and soon she is pregnant with Jack. He is baptized as an infant and, when he's old enough, Mr. O'Brien teaches him how to walk. Soon, he has a baby brother, R.L. ... +


Mrs. O'Brien swings on a tree swing in her suburban front yard. Next, she is inside, serving dinner to her husband, Mr. O'Brien, and her three pre-teen boys; Jack, R.L. and Steve. After dinner, the parents play with their boys outside. Flashing forward, an older, dowdier Mrs. O'Brien cries hysterically after reading a hand-delivered letter. She calls her husband, who is working at an airfield. He can barely stand up after receiving the news. Later, wandering aimlessly around their neighborhood, Mrs. O'Brien tells her husband, "I just want to die and be with him." Inside, she stares at her dead son's guitar, which sits in his room. Further into the future, a now adult Jack awakes from a dream of walking on the beach. He lights a candle and thinks about growing up and playing with his brothers. At work at a downtown office building, Jack calls his father to apologize for an earlier argument they had over his deceased brother. Again, Jack dreams he's in the desert, running among the rocky cliffs before coming to a dock on the shore. At the beginning of time, a volcano erupts and jellyfish swim in the sea. A small, sickly dinosaur lies on the bank of a river. Another dinosaur steps gingerly on the dying creature's head before moving on. Then, an asteroid hits the Earth and the planet is covered in ice. Jack walks on the ice. Flashing back, a much younger Mr. O'Brien romances his future wife and soon she is pregnant with Jack. He is baptized as an infant and, when he's old enough, Mr. O'Brien teaches him how to walk. Soon, he has a baby brother, R.L. However, when Mrs. O'Brien shows affection towards R.L., Jack throws a fit. He tries to hit R.L., but his mother yells at him to stop. Jack then watches his dad plant a tree and helps him water it. When Mr. O'Brien tries to teach Jack not to cross into the neighbor's yard, the boy doesn't listen and plays on both yards. Holding the baby R.L., Mrs. O'Brien points to the sky and says, "That's where God lives." Soon, there is a third baby, Steve. When all three boys are old enough to be on their own, they play Kick the Can and roughhouse with each other in the fields near their home. One night, while eating dinner, Jack lies to his father about doing his chores. Without warning, Mr. O'Brien leaps up from the table and begins mock conducting to the Brahms music playing on the record player. After dinner, Mr. O'Brien tells Jack to bring him his lighter. After doing so, Jack tries to leave the room, but Mr. O'Brien makes his son give him a hug. Mrs. O'Brien reads her boys to sleep and tells them the story about the time she received a gift of riding in a bi-plane when she was a teenager. The next morning, Mrs. O'Brien puts ice cubes on her boys' feet to get them out of bed. In town, Jack and R.L. imitate walking like crippled people, until they see a real crippled man walking nearby. They also pass by the police arresting a group of destitute men. Mrs. O'Brien gives one a drink of water out of a thermos. Another morning, Mr. O'Brien rudely awakens his boys so they can watch him play the organ at church. Later, he playfully sprays them with the garden hose at home. Then, after Jack loudly slams the front screen door closed, his father makes him close it quietly 50 times in a row. Mr. O'Brien gambles at poker with other men. Later, he tells Jack that he wanted to be a great musician, but got sidetracked. On a car ride, Mr. O'Brien tells his sons that the rich never talk about their money while people in the world are suffering. When he stops the car, Mr. O'Brien buys barbecued meat from some African-American men on the side of the road. At home, while teaching Jack how to box, Mr. O'Brien insists his son hit him hard on the chin. However, when the boy attempts to, Mr. O'Brien pushes him down. Next, he tries to get R.L. to hit him in the face, but this son will not throw a punch. Later, when Mr. O'Brien plays the piano, R.L. plays alongside him with his guitar, initiating an impromptu duet. At school, Jack is caught staring at a girl he likes and, at the end of the day, he follows her home. On the weekend, when Jack and his brothers are swimming at a public pool, a drowning boy is pulled out of the water. Mr. O'Brien performs CPR unsuccessfully. The whole family goes to the boy's funeral. Later, while caring for their yard together, Jack hugs his father tightly. Another day, Mr. O'Brien comes home from work and makes R.L. give him a kiss. However, at dinner, he warns his son not to speak unless he has something important to say. When R.L. mumbles an inaudible word, Mr. O'Brien tries to hit his son from across the table. When Jack tries to protect his brother, Mr. O'Brien picks his eldest son up and locks him in the closet. After the whole family has scattered, Mr. O'Brien sits down to finish his meal. After dinner, Mrs. O'Brien tries to hit her husband, but he overpowers her, holding her in a tight grip until she calms down. A few days later, the boys run through the house like wild animals when they learn their father has gone away on a trip. After Mrs. O'Brien shoos the rambunctious boys outside, Jack overhears another husband yelling at his wife inside their home. The next day, the boys and their friends light firecrackers and look for trouble in a back alley. Taunted by the other kids, Jack busts out the windows of an abandoned house. Then they tie a frog to a small rocket and launch the creature into the sky. Later, Mrs. O'Brien makes Jack promise not to cause any more trouble. Not heeding the warning, Jack sneaks into the arguing family's house. With nobody home, he digs through their intimate belongings. Jack steals the wife's nightgown and throws it in the river. When he returns home, his mother looks at him disdainfully, but doesn't say a word. Another day, Jack coaxes R.L. to put the tip of a wire hanger into a lamp socket. Although, when R.L. does, nothing happens. Jack then tells his mother that he's going to do whatever he wants because she lets his father run all over her. Finally, Mr. O'Brien comes home from his long trip. He shows them the towels he took from a Chinese hotel, some German deutschmarks and his Pan Am plane ticket. Mr. O'Brien takes the boys to eat lunch at a diner where he flirts with a waitress. Back at home, when Jack says out loud that he thinks his father would like to kill him, Mr. O'Brien doesn't respond. The next day, Mr. O'Brien works underneath the family car, which is hoisted high up on a jack. Jack looks at the car jack, looks to see if anyone is around as if he means to bring it down, but ultimately he just walks away. At night, he prays for his father's death. Later, Jack convinces R.L. to put his finger over the barrel of a BB gun. Jack shoots, injuring his brother. Back at home, Jack hands R.L. a large piece of wood and urges his brother to hit him with it. R.L. feints with the board, but doesn't follow through. Jack apologizes for hurting his brother. Some time later, Mr. O'Brien tells his wife that his company is forcing him to take a job that nobody wants. Then, he tells Jack that he's not proud of being such a tough father, but he's only ever wanted Jack to be strong. Jack hugs his father tightly. Eventually, their house is empty. R.L. wraps a few of his prized possessions in a handkerchief and buries it underneath the big tree. The family drives off, leaving their home behind. In the future, Jack rides in a glass elevator, but suddenly he is walking through a doorframe standing in the desert. At the end of time, the sun goes supernova and burns up the Earth. Jack wanders the desert until he comes upon a beach filled with people where he sees his brother Steve as a young boy. Jack also sees his mother and hugs her, then walks beside his father along the water's edge. Jack sees R.L. and lifts him up and carries him to Mr. O'Brien, who lifts up his son and hugs him tenderly. He lets the boy down, who then runs to his mother. Mrs. O'Brien kneels down and hugs him. With everybody reunited, Mr. and Mrs. O'Brien kiss tenderly. Back in their old house, Mrs. O'Brien opens the front door and lets R.L. run out into the desert. Jack places his hand on his mother's back to comfort her. Jack descends in the elevator. He wanders a city park, looking up at the skyscrapers. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.