Attention, cinephiles! Terrence Malick has low-key been at work on an extended version of his 2011 Palme d’Or-winning film, The Tree of Life and it’s coming to the Criterion Collection later this year. I know some of you are probably having a moment right now, so take a couple of deep breaths. Variety reports that Malick’s 139-minute theatrical cut will get another 50 minutes, which will arrive as a part of the Criterion special edition Blu-ray and DVD release coming later this year.
Fair warning, the expanded 179-minute cut draws most of the new material from the O’Brien’s family life, and The Tree of Life‘s celebrated creation sequence hasn’t been altered. So what can you expect to see? Variety details:
“It restores material that Malick was exploring for the version that was shown in Cannes, including specific events and characters that were referenced only elliptically in the original film. Audiences will get specific insights into Mr. O’Brien’s painful upbringing, meet members of Mrs. O’Brien’s extended family, and witness a major natural catastrophe that serves as a kind of centerpiece for what [Peter] Becker has been calling ‘the new version.’”
“Terry doesn’t see this as a director’s cut,” explained Criterion president Peter Becker, “It’s a fresh view of the film that has a different rhythm and a different balance.” He continued, “There’s a kind of cloud of myth that surrounds ‘The Tree of Life,’ that somewhere there’s a long-lost five-hour cut that was never released. That’s not the case… The film that he presented in Cannes is the film that he wanted to make.”
The Tree of Life stars Jessica Chastain, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Tye Sheridan, and in addition to taking home the Palme d’Or, the film was critically hailed as a masterwork and earned three Academy Award nominations for Best Pictures, Best Director, and Best Cinematography.
Criterion has already released a number of Malick’s films, including Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, and The New World, and previous release have included variant cuts, but this release required an unprecedented amount of effort on Criterion’s part. “We have never undertaken anything this extensive or this challenging, or anything that has taken this long to achieve or required so much effort on the part of pretty much every post-production craft,” says Becker. “The only thing we didn’t do is go shoot new material.”
There are no plans for theatrical distribution at the moment, but it hasn’t been ruled out. Becker says, “We’ll see what the audiences demand.”