“Love Everything” Cinema and Belief in Malick’s The Tree of Life

  • Author(s): Robert Sinnerbrink
  • When: 2016-02
  • Where: Symposium
  • One of the questions that Gilles Deleuze explores is the relationship between cinema and belief: can cinema restore the broken link between us and the world? Does modern cinema have the power to give us ‘reasons to believe in this world’? My case study for exploring the question of belief in cinema, or what I call a Bazinian cinephilia, is Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011); a film whose sublime aesthetics and unorthodox religiosity have provoked polarized critical responses, but whose ambition is to create a mythology—personal, historical, and cosmological—capable of reanimating belief in cinema and in the world. At once a religiousmetaphysical work and a meditation on the origins and ends of life, The Tree of Life expresses a philosophical version of cinephilia: a love of existence, an aesthetic response to nihilism, affirming the world’s dialectic of nature and grace via cinema’s revelatory powers.

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