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Long wait over as Terrence Malick film hits Cannes


By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) -
U.S. director Terrence Malick brings his eagerly anticipated drama "The
Tree of Life" to the Cannes film festival on Monday, ending a long wait
for movie fans and critics intrigued by only his fifth feature.

The picture has been the most talked about of the 20 entries in
the main Cannes competition, and its world premiere brings stars of the
stature of Brad Pitt and Sean Penn to the famous red carpet in the
palm-lined Riviera resort.

It also marks the halfway point of this year's festival, where
many critics argue that the glitz and glamour has yet to be matched by
the overall quality of the competition films.

They are hoping for a lift from Malick, who famously took 20
years between making his second picture "Days of Heaven" in 1978 and
third "The Thin Red Line" in 1998.

That movie, also starring Penn, won him his only Oscar
nominations for writing and directing, although he is among the most
respected U.S. film makers active today.

Secrecy surrounding The Tree of Life, and Malick's aversion to
the kind of publicity most film makers crave, have given it an almost
mythical status among cinephiles, and trailers and the official synopsis
give little away.

The synopsis calls The Tree of Life an "impressionistic story of a Midwestern family in the 1950s."

It follows Jack, played by Penn, as he navigates his childhood
and disillusioned adult years and seeks answers to the big questions of

A short trailer features mysterious cosmic images, suggesting the narrative will go beyond everyday experience.

"Through Malick's signature imagery, we see how both brute nature
and spiritual grace shape not only our lives as individuals and
families, but all life," the synopsis reads.


The movie was first conceived at least five years ago, after
Malick had completed his fourth film "The New World" starring Colin

Some industry insiders who know the 67-year-old said he had been
mulling the ideas in the movie for nearly 40 years, since the start of
his directorial career in 1973 with the release of the acclaimed crime
drama "Badlands."

"Terry had been collecting footage for decades, since
'Badlands'," Jack Fisk, the director's longtime production designer and
collaborator, told the LA Times. "Things like eclipses and other natural
wonders, just for this film."

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