The reason what many are calling the summer’s most anticipated film is getting so much attention is simple: Malick rarely makes films (this will be his fifth; his first was Badlands in 1973), and each time he does it’s a huge cultural event. Not only that, but the details around The Tree of Life’s story are shrouded in mystery, and no one has really said what it’s about other than in vague terms.
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Malick is not interested in deconstructing Hollywood conventions or in reinventing them, which seems to be the preoccupation of Godard, for example, in his early films. Neither is Malick someone who brings the French New Wave to the United States in a more palatable form. Rather, Badlands is a film that explores what genre conventions and other clichés offer its characters.