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The Movie Gustavo Santaolalla's 'Seen A Million Times'

Dec 8, 2012
Originally published on December 8, 2012 6:51 pm

The weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

For musician-composer-producer Gustavo Santaolalla, whose credits include The Motorcycle Diaries, Brokeback Mountain and the new film On the Road, which opens in theaters Dec. 21, the movie he could watch a million times is Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life.


Interview Highlights

On watching The Tree of Life for the first time

"When the mother starts talking to God I was like totally, totally sucked in. I mean, I loved it."

On the themes that the film raises

"I was raised Catholic and this movie, there is a connection, I think, with religion and with spirituality. There's also the connection with the possibility of redemption, with the possibility of coming to terms with yourself and with the problems that you might have had with your parents. We all, I think, in life go through those moments in which we feel inside of us that mom side and that dad side fighting, you know. I mean, I think all of those things are so human and related to anybody anywhere, it doesn't matter what culture you are or what religion you believe in."

On why he loves the movie

"It gives me hope. Every time that I see a movie or I'm exposed to a work of art of this magnitude, I feel regenerated, you know, I feel like I'm happy to be part of this universe. I'm happy to be in this world. So this movie really pushed once again that concept in me."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

On this program, we've been asking filmmakers about the movies they never get tired of watching, including this one from the man behind the Oscar-winning score for "Brokeback Mountain."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GUSTAVO SANTAOLALLA: My name is Gustavo Santaolalla. I'm a musician, composer, producer. The movie that I've seen a million times - but really I saw three times, but for many people probably will seem like a million times - was "The Tree of Life," directed by Terrence Malick and starring Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE TREE OF LIFE")

JESSICA CHASTAIN: (as Mrs. O'Brien) (Unintelligible) there are two ways through life: the way of nature and the way of grace.

SANTAOLALLA: The movie starts, you know, with this story about this family in Waco, Texas, in the '50s.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE TREE OF LIFE")

BRAD PITT: (as Mr. O'Brien) Bless this food to our use, us to your loving and faithful service.

SANTAOLALLA: And then, you know, we get to know this tragedy that happened, I mean, and in such a poetic way. I mean, there's really no dialogue or anything through the visuals. You absolutely realize what just had happened, you know. You can tell that one of the kids died.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE TREE OF LIFE")

CHASTAIN: (as Mrs. O'Brien) Why?

SANTAOLALLA: When the mother starts talking to God...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE TREE OF LIFE")

CHASTAIN: (as Mrs. O'Brien) Where were you?

SANTAOLALLA: ...I was, like, totally, totally sucked in. I mean, I loved it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE TREE OF LIFE")

SANTAOLALLA: I was raised Catholic. And this movie, there is a connection, I think, with religion and with spirituality. And there's also, I mean, the connection with the possibility of redemption, you know, with the possibility of coming to terms with yourself and with the problems that you might have had with your parents.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE TREE OF LIFE")

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: (as Character) Father...

And when he says, you know, father, mother, you always wrestle inside of me and you always will.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE TREE OF LIFE")

HUNTER MCCRACKEN: (as Young Jack) ...always you wrestle inside me.

SANTAOLALLA: We all, I think, in life go through those moods in which we feel inside of us that mom side and that dad side fighting, you know?

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE TREE OF LIFE")

PITT: (as Mr. O'Brien) You know, Jack, all I ever wanted for you was to make you strong. And maybe I've been tough on you. I'm not proud of that.

SANTAOLALLA: I mean, I think all those things are so human and related to anybody anywhere. You know, it doesn't matter what culture are you or even, you know, what religion you believe in.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE TREE OF LIFE")

MCCRACKEN: (as Young Jack) Mother, make me good.

SANTAOLALLA: I have favorite scenes for different reasons. I will say, probably, I mean, the scene where they get the news about the death of their son is a tremendous, powerful scene. The whole scene, the way it's set up and, you know, first, you know, she coming in the house and getting the letter and opening the letter and suddenly reading that text and breaking down and then going (makes noise) to the sound of the airplane. I mean, that weight of that pain and the way it's translated in that scene, it really, really moved me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANTAOLALLA: It gives me, you know, hope. Every time that I see a movie or I'm exposed to a work of art of this magnitude, I feel regenerated. You know, I feel like I'm happy to be part of this universe, and I'm happy to be in this world. So this movie really pushed once again that concept in me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RAZ: That's Gustavo Santaolalla talking about the movie that he could watch a million times, Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life." Santaolalla composed the score for the new film "On the Road," which hits theaters December 21.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RAZ: And you're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.