Terrence Malick's 'The Tree Of Life' Scores PG-13 Rating

Here's some good news: the MPAA has evidently rated The Tree of Life, the long-gestating movie from Terrence Malick, and awarded it a PG-13. The good news isn't so much the rating (I don't really care what the film is rated) but that it is finished to the point where it could be submitted to the board for consideration.

We've been wondering about the fate of the movie, and Rope of Silicon noticed not only that the MPAA had rated the film, but that distributor Apparition is not listed. Rather, production company Cottonwood Pictures, Inc. is noted. That might not mean anything, but it's not difficult to read the listing as slightly significant, given that Apparition has been undergoing a lot of upheaval lately, and Tree of Life was the only film the company was left holding.

The MPAA confirmed that this is Malick's picture and that it was screened in the past couple of weeks, but could not provide a running time or additional info. All we've got with respect to the rating is that it is PG-13 for "some thematic content."

We haven't gone back over the details of the film in a while, but here's an old synopsis that was floating around quite a while ago. Note that the actual film could have changed quite a bit in the past year Malick has spent editing — this is a very old writeup. Remember what happened with The Thin Red Line, where entire characters were removed from the film, among other changes.

Our picture is a cosmic epic, a hymn to life. 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.

Framing 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.

That's all pretty heavy, non-specific stuff. More specifically, it features Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain as the parents of Jack, and Sean Penn as the adult Jack.

There's still doubt that the film will appear at the Venice Film Festival this fall, but with this small step towards real distribution, we've got one more reason to hope we'll actually see the film this year.