The Greatest Scene in The Tree of Life (2011)

Perhaps the most impactful and meaningful scene in Terrence Malick’s ‘The Tree of Life’.

I wanted to be loved because I was great. A big man. I’m nothing. Look at the glory around us. Tree and birds. I lived in shame. I dishonored it all and didn’t notice the glory. I’m a foolish man.” – Mr. O’Brien

The Tree Of Life – Siciliana Da Antiche Danze Ed Arie Suite III

by Hanan Townshend

Tornado Scene from Extended Version (2018) of The Tree of Life

Included in the 50-minutes of additional footage in the Criterion Collection’s The Tree of Life is the “tornado scene”.

I visited Smithville, Texas in March of 2019 and spoke with the neighbor of the main home in the film and shr recalled see the street “a complete mess” when filming. This footage was not included in the original 2011 cut.

The Tree of Life Trailers, Stills and Images

Check out the stunning images and trailers featuring Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s award-winning work in The Tree of Life (2011)

Trailers


Film Stills

90 Stunning High-Resolution Images from Malick’s The Tree of Life

Movie-screencaps.com – The Tree of Life (2011) Stills

IMDB.com – Tree of Life (2011) Photos

Hollywood.com Movie Stills – The Tree of Life (2011)

Screenplay and Quotes from Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011)

Screenplay

Film Analysis and Interpretations

Film Quotes

Prologue: [on screen, unspoken] “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38: 4,7

Mr. O’Brien: I wanted to be loved because I was great; A big man. I’m nothing. Look at the glory around us; trees, birds. I lived in shame. I dishonored it all, and didn’t notice the glory. I’m a foolish man.

Mr. O’Brien: Wrong people go hungry, die. Wrong people get loved. The world lives by trickery. If you want to succeed you can’t be too good.

Mrs. O’Brien: [voice over] Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it, too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things.5

Mrs. O’Brien: [voice over] Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.

Mrs. O’Brien: [voice over] The nuns taught us there were two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow.

Mrs. O’Brien: [voice over] The only way to be happy is to love. Unless you love, your life will flash by.

Mrs. O’Brien: [voice over] Do good to them. Wonder. Hope.

Mrs. O’Brien: [voice over] Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries.

Young Jack: [voice over] Where were You? You let a boy die. You let anything happen. Why should I be good ? When You aren’t.

Young Jack: [voice over] I didn’t know how to name You then. But I see it was You. Always You were calling me.

Mrs. O’Brien: [voice over] The nuns taught us that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.

Young Jack: [voice over] What I want to do, I can’t do. I do what I hate.

Father Haynes: He is in God’s hands, now.

Mrs. O’Brien: He was in God’s hands the whole time. Wasn’t he?

Mrs. O’Brien: [voice over] Lord, Why? Where were you? Did you know what happened? Do you care?1

Mr. O’Brien: Toscanini once recorded a piece sixty five times. You know what he said when he finished? “It could be better.” Think about it.

Young Jack: [on camera] Help me not answer my dad… Help me not to get dogs in fights… Help me to be thankful for everything I’ve got…

Young Jack: Are You watching me? I want to know what You are. I want to see what You see.

Mrs. O’Brien: [pointing to the sky] That’s where God lives!

Mr. O’Brien: You are not to call me “Dad”. You will only call me “Father”.

Young Jack: But…

Mr. O’Brien: Don’t interrupt!

Young Jack: But you do…

Mr. O’Brien: Don’t interrupt!

Young Jack: It’s your house. You can kick me out whenever you want to. You’d like to kill me wouldn’t you.

Mrs. O’Brien: [voice over] I will be true to you. Whatever comes.7

Mr. O’Brien: Your mother’s naive. It takes fierce will to get ahead in this world. If you’re good, people take advantage of you.

Mr. O’Brien: You can’t say I can’t. You say: I’m having trouble, I’m not done yet.

Jack: [voice over] I see me as a child… I see my brother. True. Kind. He died when he was 19.

Young Jack: [voice over] Mother. Make me good. Brave.

Mrs. O’Brien: [voice-over] I give him to you. I give you my son.

Mr. O’Brien: If you want to succeed, you can’t be too good!

Mrs. O’Brien: [voice over] The nuns taught us there are two ways through life: the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it, too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it, when love is smiling through all things. They taught us that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end. I will be true to you. Whatever comes.M

Mr. O’Brien: They’re closing the plant. I was given this choice: no job or transfer to a job nobody wants.

Young Jack: [voice over] How do I get back? To where they are.

Jack: [voice over] Brother. Keep us. Guide us. To the end of time.

R.L.: Tell us a story from before we can remember.

Mr. O’Brien: [voice over] You’re all I have. You’re all I want to have. You’re a sweet boy.

Mrs. O’Brien: Come here!

Young Jack: NO! I’m gonna do what I want to do, and you let him walk all over you.