If you know anything about The Tree of Life, you’ve likely at least heard about the wordless, 20-minute opening act that chronicles nothing less than the creation and formation of the universe — and ends with a scene featuring dinosaurs. To help him achieve this sequence, writer-director Terrence Malick turned to one of the giants of cinema visual effects, Douglas Trumbull, who worked on the groundbreaking, eye-popping visuals of such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Blade Runner.
Trumbull had spent 30 years away from Hollywood, but Malick was able to cajole him to return to work on the film after the two bonded over the use of what Trumbull calls “organic effects.” Now that The Tree of Life has made the nominee short list for the Academy Award for visual effects, Fox Searchlight has put together a “for your consideration” vignette featuring many of the stunning visuals from The Tree of Life, with Trumbull discussing how he achieved them, and Malick’s overarching philosophy behind them. You can check it out below:
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