Is Tree of Life Full of Shit?

Come on, you know you asked this question. Is the Tree of Life really full of it?

About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.


  1. When he was talking about the movie about the two guys walking in a desert (Gerry) all I could think of was another mostly silent movie with a lot of walking (at least at the end) Electroma. Now it is a movie written and directed by, get this, the french-house band Daft Punk. While this isn’t their first foray into film (the first was a collaboration with toei animation and Leiji Matsumoto called Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem) it has a unique film style. Like their previous work the movie has no dialogue and instead conveys emotion through actions and music though perhaps less so then the animated feature. What separates it from Gerry, at least with the description of the review, is that despite the lack of dialogue motives and emotions are very obviously and strongly conveyed even when open to interpretation.
    The movie centers around a long driving sequence revealing the stars to be… Daft Punk, or at least their robot personas. We follow the two to a small town full of litter similar faced robots seemingly going about the normal activities of any other small town. But our heroes drive through to a strange white facility (creating a really cool visual) where they reveal the reason for their trip… to become humans in a world of machines. I’m not going to give everything away but you can imagine how well that goes. But it does invoke a serious question with its emotional portrayal of the two robots struggle… What does it mean to be human? Are they human because they are different? Because we identify with them? Because they feel and succeed and fail? And all of this is ours to interpret. It has dark scenes and memorable scenes including the famous “unmasking” scene. If you know anything about the two band members it brings even more to what happens given their longtime friendship but that parts neither here nor there. In the end as the critic said its just an example of how movies don’t have to play “by the rules” to mean something or be really enjoyable.

    Any who I suggest watching Interstella 5555 and Electroma! Trust me its worth it!

  2. This was a really interesting question.

    Both Doug and the Critic talk about interpretation a lot. Personally, while I appreciate the ability and freedom to interpret things in different ways, I believe there’s a danger in doing that. This is why one of the only South Park episodes that didn’t royally annoy me was the one where the kids write a book with the intention of making it so bad that it would get banned, only to have it be one of the best books in history because of how people interpreted it. I like this episode because, to me, it’s a word of warning about interpretations. The ability to interpret something differently than someone else is a wonderful thing, but if there’s a proper interpretation and you get it wrong, it could cause a big problem. On top of that, there are times (most times in my opinion) where there’s really supposed to be one interpretation. I know I for one wouldn’t like it if people saw a movie I made or read something I wrote and took it in a way other than what I was intending. But perhaps this is a bias, seeing as this happens just from my speaking to other people.

    Also, that ending in Inception pissed me off. I don’t mind some things being left to interpretation, but the ending is pretty important, especially in regards to dreams vs. reality. That’s the kind of thing I would delight in having it spoon fed to me because it’s like philosophy: there is no one answer. Sometimes it’s cool not to have one definitive answer, but let me tell you two things: 1)I was in a number of philosophy classes in college, they were not fun, and 2) having an important element in a piece of media left to interpretation isn’t deep and thought provoking, it’s just infuriating because we simply can’t answer the question.

    • I know this is an old comment, but I definitely ascribe to the theory that the spinning top was not his totem as he said it was Mal’s
      His wedding ring perhaps was. And it fits in the movie. He’s wearing it when he is dreaming and not when he’s awake.
      Someone also theorized that maybe his inability to see his kids faces through out most of the film was a sign too. He sees them at the end.

      I’m pretty sure he is actually awake and in reality at the end of the movie.

    One movie that I think did particularly well with deliberately leaving something out was Babel. As the viewers we see far more than any of the characters ever do: we know exactly what’s going on, what motivates the characters (including their ignorance to facts that we’re privy to) and really all of the factual information… except what the girl wrote in the note to the officer. I myself had my own theory as to what she wrote; but then I took a step back and thought, “What could she have written that would have explained the movie, that would tell us something we didn’t already know?” In that sense, I feel like withholding what’s written in the note is a kind of joke at the expense of the audience, because you’re so confused by the end that you feel like the note will clear everything up… when in fact you have all of the information you need, and a lot more than any of the characters individually have. It’s kind of like a joke from a Simpson’s episode (well, the older episodes) where the punchline is that you know what the punchline is going to be… and then it doesn’t happen.

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