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Some Ramblings - The Tree of Life
By Srinivas Kanchibhotla
the tree of life

Why - at the root of human pursuit, endeavor, thirst, pain, suffering, happiness, growth, and evolution, stands a simple epistemological, innocuous question, why. In mathematical terms, 'Why' is the first infinite loop that exists in nature. Because every reply for 'why' starts with a 'because', and for every 'because', there is a following 'why'. Children have an innate instinctive understanding of this interdependent relation between why and because, as they go on letting the two words spar with each other and provide them a basic understanding of the situation. As age advances, however, adults break this self-perpetuating feedback mechanism, either on ennui or exasperation, and start accepting things as they are, unquestioned and unexamined. All the questions that relate to the concept of existence - emotion, behavior, trait - that exist in nature can be traced back to that single event that started it all - Big Bang. Case in point - why do humans grieve upon loss of their beloved; because grieving is a natural coping mechanism to unburden oneself can get on with life; why does one have to get on with life; because survival is the basest instinct known to man and he does everything in his power and wisdom to move forward in time; why do humans have to survive; because nature, through evolution, imparts this knowledge and ingrains in them, in every step of the way, that continuance is the only thing that matters and that the concept of existence is validated only through the act of continuance, be it humans, nature or even the universe; why does the universe continue to grow/expand; because of that monumental event, Big Bang, that spawned it all - a big bang in an unimaginably packed core that hurled its contents away to the far reaches of the space, and because of the intensity of the explosion, the exploded items continue to travel away, farther and farther, in time and space causing the boundaries of universe to stretch all the time. Thus, there is a correlation, direct or roundabout, between the first ever event to every event that follows. But the ever unstable and the ever curious "why" doesn't stop there. Why is there a Big Bang?

Just as every single move - physical or otherwise - can be traced back to the epocal event, conversely, every understanding relating to the concept of existence stops at that same point, unable and not capable of moving even an inch prior to that point. Which brings up the issue, what is the scope of 'understanding'. Is 'understanding' bound by the parameters of existence? Even if evidence is found sometime in the future that can move the edge of existence to moments before the Big Bang, can an intelligent mind interpret that fact as it relates to the concept of life? Because until now, the prime mover of everything in universe is the act (in case of non-intelligent entities, like celestial objects, and instinctive terrestial ones, like animals) of moving forward or the will (in case of intelligent ones aware of their own existence) to take steps in time. But when a concept comes along, where there is no room for space and time and 'understanding' is reduced to a mere abstraction, how can an intelligent mind reconcile with it? Science ends at this point; 'why' ends here, and consequently 'because' has no meaning either. IT JUST IS. There is one such concept in life (without having to look for at the peripheries of the universe) that humans confront on a daily basis - Death. 'Death' is as much an abstraction as 'Life' is. Sciences and theories may explain everything after a cell is formed, combines and multiples, makes life and similarly grows old, decays and exhausts it capacity, but fail at explaining, why the first ever cell was formed in the first place, what is it that differentiates one set of cells in one body to make one being and similar cells in another body to make an entirely different being, and finally, what after for that life force after the wick burns away. Let alone sciences, can spirituality - the instinctive understanding of the nature of things - quench the thirst pursuing the unknown and inexplicable?

'The tree of Life' is not a movie in a traditional sense. It is a meditative, contemplative and even reflective work of art that tries to string through the concepts of life, death, universe and existence, while stoutly refusing to understand (in the why-because way) the underlying framework and merely accepting the things, facts and ways, as they are, without any overt explanations or broad interpretations. The scope of the movie is both encompassing (dragging in the origins of the universe) and limiting (focussing on the lives of a family during one summer in a some small idyllic town) at once. And the attempt of mirroring the micro and the macro (the universe in the family and viceversa) and allowing the room to draw upon multiple conclusions and interpretations, is just like the concepts of 'life' and 'death' themselves - no reasons, no meanings, THEY JUST ARE. A unique film that has the audacity of expanding the scope on the limits of existence and understanding.

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More Ramblings on films
Super 8
Teen Maar
Inside Job
127 hours
The king's speech
The social network
Peepli [live]
Kick Ass
Ye Maya Chesave
Maya Bazaar
3 Idiots
Inglorious Basterds
District 9
The Hurt Locker
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire
Quantom of Solace
The Dark Knight
Wall - E
The incredible Hulk
Indiana Jones and the kingdom of crystal skull
Speed Racer
Iron Man
Jodha Akbar
There will be blood
Chrlie Wilson's War
No Country for Old Men
Om Shanti Om
Lions for Lambs
American Gangster
Michael Clayton
Happy Days
Chak De India!
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Simpsons Movie
The Grindhouse
Casino Royale
The Departed
Lage Raho Munnabhai
Superman Returns
The Da Vinci Code
Sri Ramadasu
Rang De Basanti (Hindi)
Jai Chiranjeeva!
Munich (English)
Sarkar (Hindi)
Mangal Padey (Hindi)
Kaadhal (Tamil)
Anukokunda Oka Roju
Batman Begins (English)
Radha Gopalam
Mughal E Azam
Virumandi (Tamil)
Lakshya (Hindi)
Yuva (Hindi)
Kakha Kakha (Tamil)
Mr & Mrs Iyer
Nuvve Nuvve


This article is written by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
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