The Genesis of Manhood

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About Paul Leroux

Paul Gregory Leroux is a translator, creative writer, and blogger from Ottawa, Canada. He is a published author of gay erotic short fiction. Most recently, he contributed "To Damn a Saint" to the anthology Don Juan and Men: Stories of Lust & Seduction (ed. Caro Soles)(MLR Press, Albion, NY, 2009). Paul is a political junkie, especially in an election year, as reflected in his blog, "A Transitory Yes." You can follow Paul on Twitter @ATransitoryYes.


  1. Thank you for this writing, Paul. I was told to see The Tree of Life by my friend Brad, an award-winning nature photographer. He said, “You will love this film for lots of different reasons…” but before he finished, I interrrupted him with, “I’ll wait for it on Netflix”.
    “No,” he said, “You MUST see it on the big screen. The cinematography alone demands it.” I went the next day with my partner and as we walked after it finished, simply stunned at the elegance, the simplicity, the power of this storytelling together with the score (gorgeous) and the cinematography, we noticed we hadn’t spoken in a half hour. That’s how “full” we each felt.
    You are right: it’s not for those who need car crashes, explosions and near-nude girls in their films to be excited by a movie. It’s for those who want to be moved by the power of a strong story which touches on and amplifies many archetypes of the masculine. I will BUY this film when it’s on dvd, and watch it many more times, I am sure. What a rich gem. Thank you for recommending it to others and for your excellent illumination of which characters were playing out which roles, which at certain points felt confusing to me. I didn’t much mind, though, it was well worth it for so many other reasons I mentioned.

  2. Mervyn Kaufman says:

    Sorry, but I thought this an excruciatingly boring and pretentious exercise in filmmaking by a director who seemed undisciplined in his desire to advance his “art.” I did like the family, however—the actors were effective and convincing, and I think Brad Pitt gave one of the best performances he’s ever delivered onscreen. Perhaps this is because he didn’t know what the hell the movie was about and was determined to make his segments of it meaningful. Kudos for Mr. Pitt; a loud raspberry for director Malick. My wife and I were numb and stupefied when the lights came up at the end of the film and we were able to flee the theater.

    • I can understand how you might respond this way to the film. Sean Penn has publicly stated that he himself did not comprehend the film or his role in it. I hope Mr. Penn reads my article! “The Tree of Life” is not for everyone, but I do think moviegoers should give it a fair chance.

  3. Robert Hagedorn says:

    Yes, Adam and Eve. But is Saint Augustine’s exegesis of the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Genesis correct? Do a search: First Scandal.

    • I am not familiar with Saint Augustine’s exegesis. To appreciate Malick’s reinterpretation of the biblical story, we do not necessarily have to believe it. Malick has, in my opinion at least, made brilliant use of the story as an archetype, a platform for his own meditation. “The Tree of Life” lends itself to many interpretations, of course, and my article focuses on only one aspect of the film’s “message”. I think film students will be discussing it for years to come.

  4. OK – I am intrigued – both by your description and by the comments. I will watch the film. And I anticipate that I will like it. Because of its mythic content. My guess, and this is totally and ignorant reflection, but my guess is that Mervyn was predisposed to NOT like the film because of its biblical themes, not because of its artistic value…..

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