Director Terrence Malick's long-awaited film, "The Tree of Life," debuted at the Cannes Film Festival yesterday. The film, which stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, was originally announced back in 2005. Beset by delays, it finally started filming in 2008 — and included one giant set piece that Malick insisted on foregoing digital computer graphics to create.
A massive live oak estimated to be about 100 years old was dug up and transported 8 miles to the town of Smithville, Texas, where it was replanted for pivotal scenes in the film. It's estimated that the tree and root ball weighed in at more than 65,000 pounds. You can see videos of the move here and planting here.
Unfortunately, critics of Malick's film were less than impressed with the final results — with reports of booing and lackluster applause at the premiere's conclusion. But this is no popcorn feature — and positive reviews suggest that while the film will not please the masses, it does stir the imagination. From a Reuters review:
"There are great, heady things here, both obvious and evanescent, more than enough to qualify this as an exceptional and major film. Critical passions, pro and con, along with Brad Pitt in one of his finest performances will stir specialized audiences to attention, but Fox Searchlight will have its work cut out for it in luring a wider public."