In the greater scheme of things : creation and the human condition in Terrence Malick’s tree of life (2011)
CITATION: Van Der Walt, C. 2017. In the greater scheme of things : creation and the human condition in Terrence Malick’s tree of life (2011). Scriptura, 116(2):224-235, doi:10.7833/116-2-1327.
The original publication is available at http://scriptura.journals.ac.za
The oeuvre of the American film writer, director and producer, Terrence Malick has consistently traced themes related to creation and natural phenomena. Nowhere is it quite as spectacularly clear as in the critically acclaimed and 2011 Palme d’Or winner The Tree of Life. The film explores human pain and suffering in the microcosm as it is set against the grand notions of the meaning of life and the creation of the world. This article traces the reception of Biblical creation themes and the movement of the Job narrative within the film, as it sets the stage for a complex coming-of-age story and a dramatic negotiation of masculinity construction. Malick sets up a grand canvas in order to engage with the beauty of human fragility and natural wonder. The article aims to explore alternative imaginings of what it means to be a man when the ‘way of nature’ is delicately juxtaposed ‘with the way of grace’.