There is good news and bad news about the very early promo push for Terrence Malick‘s much-anticipated film The Tree of Life. The bad news is that this first poster is really bad. It could be advertising Big Fish 2 just as easily as the generational drama from Mr. Malick. The good news is that, since this came out of the American Film Market, there’s a very high chance that this is just a sales art mockup and not even close to a final teaser poster meant to entice audiences.

But along with the poster we have an extended synopsis — the same one that was found occasionally on the web quite a while back, but this time “from the desk of Terrence Malick” — which you can find along with a large version of the poster after the break.

I don’t even really want to post the poster image, because I have a feeling it isn’t a good early look at the movie. But there are elements — the tree and ladder, for example — that suggest a few things about the film. So take the poster with the giant ‘this is probably not final’ caveat.

Much better is the synopsis, which is so detailed as to be possibly spoilerish. So keep that in mind. This is info that got posted here and there months ago. (I ran most of it here, for example.) Now it’s back, perhaps slightly altered, and with the official stamp of Mr. Malick’s office. So take one more look. All the images come from the roving cameras of Collider, where you can see larger versions.

Fox Searchlight will release The Tree of Life on May 27, 2011.

From the Desk of Terrence Malick….

We trace the evolution of an eleven-year-old boy in the Midwest, JACK, one of three brothers.  At first all seems marvelous to the child.  He sees as his mother does with the eyes of his soul.  She represents the way of love and mercy, where the father tries to teach his son the world’s way of putting oneself first.  Each parent contends for his allegiance, and Jack must reconcile their claims.  The picture darkens as he has his first glimpses of sickness, suffering and death.  The world, once a thing of glory, becomes a labyrinth.

From this story is that of adult Jack, a lost soul in a modern world, seeking to discover amid the changing scenes of time that which does not change: the eternal scheme of which we are a part.  When he sees all that has gone into our world’s preparation, each thing appears a miracle—precious, incomparable.  Jack, with his new understanding, is able to forgive his father and take his first steps on the path of life.

The story ends in hope, acknowledging the beauty and joy in all things, in the everyday and above all in the family—our first school—the only place that most of us learn the truth about the world and ourselves, or discover life’s single most important lesson, of unselfish love.

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