Would You Watch a 6-Hour Cut of The Tree of Life?

We now visit that famously vague, gossipy realm of Internet discourse known as the IMDB message boards, where a translation of a French-language interview with Tree of LIfe DP Emmanuel Lubezki has surfaced to announce that director Terrence Malick hasn't finished tinkering with the film. To wit, who's up for a six-hour cut?

I know what you're thinking: "But didn't I already watch a six-hour cut?" Har har, whatever. Whether or not it sees the light of day, apparently it's really a thing -- according to an English translation of a Cahiers du Cinema article featuring a Mexican cinematographer talking about a famously slow-working American who's already incubating no fewer than two other previously announced projects. Ahem.

Translated, the exchange went like this:

Does Malick think about editing when he's filming?

We speak about it almost every time. But most of the ideas about the editing we share on the set don't make the final cut. We maybe have been shot 600.000 metres (around 370 [hours]) of film. The first cut was 8 hours long. Terry is working on/preparing a 6 hours long version of the movie. What I've seen (of this) is absolutely incredible, it's wonderful. The longer version will have to/will likely, for the most part, relate to the children part. There were outstanding things, we've shot many, many things about Jack's childhood: his friends, his evolution, his changes, his awareness of the loss of his childhood. I don't know if I'm supposed to say all of this!

I don't know -- I'd rather he didn't say it; I like Tree fine the way it is. Moreover, the middle section with the kids is the most impressive part of the whole enterprise because of its compression, not despite it. Still, Malick's going to do what Malick's going to do, and one must presume there's an audience for even his most overbaked edit-suite follies. Are you among this crowd?

· Terrence Malick Preparing Six-Hour Cut of The Tree of Life [Film Stage via /Film]


  • SD says:

    I know I could have easily sat through a 6 hour cut of The Thin Red Line so yeah, why not? I don't have plans this weekend.
    S.T. - as someone who has seen this, could it in any way be split into two separate films; for example one with Brad Pitt and the other with Sean Penn? Or does the narrative from one half inform the other other half?
    It just pains me the thought of all of that footage disappearing again and never being seen again.

  • james kent says:

    I remember the long version of "Once Upon a Time in America." How much better that was compared with the chopped and hacked version. I would have no problem seeing an extended version of "The Tree of Life" provided it was shown in pristine viewing conditions, unlike the flickering, projector lamp going, version I saw in Arizona.

  • G says:

    The only thing I watch six hours of is a "Law and Order: SVU" marathon on my Netflix.

  • That's a really interesting question. Obviously I dunno what else is there with the Penn stuff, though it's choppy and impressionistic enough to suggest they just went with the bits they could tie into the period stuff with Pitt. There's probably a feature's worth there.
    The question then is: Does anyone care? The period stuff Lubezki refers to is sublime -- really striking images married to a discernible, engaging narrative. I _would_ watch a feature about that. (It's virtually feature-length as it is.) The contemporary stuff is gorgeous but less about narrative than an epilogue about how the family's lives bleed into the cosmos. I guess it just depends on if they can make the flow match the first part of the movie. Otherwise it seems like it would just be anticlimactic.

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