Terrence Malick Working On A Tree Of Life Director's Cut

Anyone who caught Terrence Malick’s Oscar-nominated The Tree of Life understand that there had to exist a longer version of the story at some point during the creative process. Heck, even co-star Sean Penn spoke out to the media at some point after the film’s release and wondered what happened to the footage he shot for the framing story … as most of it landed on Malick’s cutting room floor.

The good news, for Tree of Life fans, is that the reclusive director appears to be restoring a lot of footage for a director’s cut of the film. However, from what we’re hearing, Penn’s scenes likely won’t be the focus. The Playlist caught up with Malick’s editor, Billy Weber, at the TCM Classic Film Festival where they learned about Malick’s Tree tinkering.

"I don't even know the total [amount of footage that was shot], it was a huge amount of film, because he shot so many scenes. And I'm pretty sure he's doing a director's cut DVD of Tree Of Life, and that will have some of those scenes deleted [placed back] in," Weber said. "But for the theatrical release, he really thought that it was going to be too much, and he just couldn't put it all in."The site digs into old quotes from cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki as saying that the majority of the deleted scenes involved Brad Pitt’s young sons. That doesn’t help Penn at all.There also isn’t a lot of details about when we might be able to see this cut of the film. Playlist ponders whether Fox Searchlight, which released the film in the first place, might pick up the longer cut. Or maybe a company like Criterion could swoop in and support Malick’s full vision. Maybe it will be released at the same time as the documentary companion piece Malick reportedly wanted in theaters by 2014. But we know how quickly Malick tends to work, so the chances of all of this material reaching theaters by next year are slim.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.