From a black swan, a tree grows

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Trailers are supposed to entice those of us who come for the main attraction to see another movie. But every once in a while it works in reverse: People come to see the main attraction because they’re interested in the trailer. (Last year Summit savvily got filmgoers to buy tickets to ‘Bandslam’ by putting a ‘Twilight: New Moon’ teaser in front of it.)

That could be just what happens this weekend when ‘Black Swan’ opens with ‘The Tree of Life’ trailer attached. The Natalie Portman supernatural ballet movie already has an off-the-charts level of interest for an art-house film, or for any film. (Did we really hear a non-cinephile local radio host frothing about it the other day?)

But the interest in the Terrence Malick epic has been so high that we wouldn’t be surprised if a few fans turn up just for the chance to see a little bit of footage. (Smart move by distributor Fox Searchlight to hold back and not make the trailer available online; it gets filmgoers into theaters and keeps an added air of mystery around the movie.)

It actually hasn’t been that long since Malick’s work was last on the big screen -- ‘The New World’ opened in 2005 -- but for those who’ve followed the stops and starts on ‘Tree,’ it may well feel that way.


Trailers can be a tease in all sorts of ways. But the info on Malick’s new work has been so minimal and mysterious -- Midwestern childhoods! dinosaurs! the meaning of life! -- that even the smallest revelations about it will be welcome. Then again, this is probably the one film in which the trailer won’t give away the movie.


Reading tea leaves on the ‘Tree of Life’

-- Steven Zeitchik