A wonderfully-realized story of adolescence that feels more amorphous than tethered to narrative structure or any form of cadence, capturing progression and experience like few films do. Rapturous rendered, Tree of Knowledge exhibits the fluidity of our identities and emotions impacted by external experiences that continuously refine our lives, wants, and desires. Calling the Tree of Knowledge a coming-of-age story doesn't feel like an accurate descriptor, or perhaps it just feels too slight for what Nils Malmros has crafted. The Tree of Knowledge is so expansive, so acutely observed, recognizing that we as individuals are defined by collective experiences and the various entanglements of social interaction that drive the constantly shifting and re-adjusting act that is self-actualization and discovery. Imbued with such vitality from beginning to end, The Tree of Knowledge doesn't feel particularly interested in excavating drama instead it simply wishes to expose what life is - a series of experiences. The use of light in this film jumped out to me - whether the sun itself, candlelight, or a class projector - the contrast between light and darkness evokes the impressionable time of adolescence where a slight deviation can lead towards morally good or morally corrupt acts. From the body to the mind, adolescence is a continuous process of renewal full of jubilation and melancholy, and simply put, I'm not sure I've ever seen a film that so wonderfully captures this in what feels like such organic documentation of not only growing up but life itself.
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