In Contention


Penn on Malick, part deux

Posted by Guy Lodge · 4:25 am · August 22nd, 2011

I originally posted this in the previous comment thread, but since the web seems to have latched onto this story, I think it’s worth highlighting more prominently. The media is determined to interpret Sean Penn’s fairly reasoned personal reservations about “The Tree of Life” as some kind of ego-driven attack — but before everyone starts taking sides in the Penn-Malick Celebrity Deathmatch, it’s worth reading the second half of his statement to Le Figaro, which doesn’t seem to have been translated by the English-speaking press. My rough translation below paints a rather more gracious picture:

But it’s a film I recommend, as long as you go in without any preconceived ideas. It’s up to each person to find their own personal, emotional or spiritual connection to it. Those that do generally emerge very moved.

So, what we have have here is a statement of respectful artistic dissent from someone clearly still proud to have been involved with the picture. Not as much fun as a highbrow bitchfight, granted, but there it is. At ease, everyone.

[Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures]




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13 responses so far

  • 1 8-22-2011 at 7:16 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    I’m glad you provided more context, but if I may, you did kinda-sorta present the previous post as an ego-driven attack by titling it “Sean Penn bitch-slaps ‘Tree of Life’”…

  • 2 8-22-2011 at 7:16 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    Or, at least Kris did…

  • 3 8-22-2011 at 7:49 am

    Drew said...

    Robert Hamer: Kris wrote the last article, Guy wrote this one.

  • 4 8-22-2011 at 7:50 am

    Drew said...

    Sorry, your second comment wasn’t visible until now.

  • 5 8-22-2011 at 8:34 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Yep, I called it a bitch-slap. That’s what it was. Let’s not dance around semantics.

    But thanks for the further context, Guy.

  • 6 8-22-2011 at 9:36 am

    pascal le duff said...

    It’s not about dancing around semantics, but facts. Sean Penn DID not bitch-slap Terrence Malick’s movie. He made an artistic statement. That sounds better, not only because of the use of words, but because it is closer to the truth.

  • 7 8-22-2011 at 10:10 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Bitch-slap. Artistic statement. They aren’t mutually exclusive. The point was that he had harsh words for the film and it’s not out of bounds to have fun by calling it a “bitch-slap.”

    So yes, it’s a bullshit semantic argument. Let’s move on.

  • 8 8-22-2011 at 10:50 am

    James D. said...

    In other news, did you see a piece on this at The Playlist? Apparently Malick’s next film is a lot closer to being done than anyone would have thought. Maybe 2 Malick films in 2011 is a longshot, but if he has one next year, wouldn’t that be amazing?

  • 9 8-22-2011 at 11:08 am

    Al said...

    In all fairness, most of us had no way of knowing there was a second part to this.

  • 10 8-22-2011 at 11:24 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Al: Exactly. Which is why I thought it was worth providing. No offence intended to Kris, or any readers who commented off the original quote.

  • 11 8-22-2011 at 12:25 pm

    Shawn said...

    That makes a bit of a difference. Thanks, Guy.

  • 12 8-22-2011 at 7:05 pm

    via collins said...

    Valiant stuff Guy, thanks also for the context.

    Mark me down as another who thinks its not about semantics, but blogging has rough edges, so no pain caused.

    I’m still as confused as I ever was, but I sure know I enjoyed the experience of Tree of Life!