Dvro (The Tree)
An old man gathers a collection of large glass bottles, secures them to a wooden rod, and then awkwardly heaves the load onto his shoulders. He sets off into the night, snow swirling around him. He says nothing; he meets no one. Distant booms on the horizon speak of a brutal war being waged around him. He comes to a boat and sets off down the river, eventually seeing a figure on the riverbank who hurries off into the distance. The boat arrives at its destination and the old man climbs out. It should be pointed out that this sequence unfolds more or less in real time, taking up the best part of the first hour of André Gil Mata’s The Tree. It should also be pointed out that a sizable proportion of the journalists at the film’s Berlinale press screening had gotten up and walked out by this point.
At least it can be said that the director has made a bold choice in casting aside the conventions of cinema; Pangaea broke up and formed the continents of the Southern Hemisphere with greater speed. It’s certainly a divisive piece. There are those who will be mesmerised by its placid pace and disquieting composition. There are also those who will think of the feature as nothing more than a cinematic sedative.
The second half involves more trudging through the snow, although now it follows a young boy. He explores war-ravaged buildings and traipses ever so slowly through the frame. It transpires that he was the one on the riverbank, and so the two meet. This latter portion features the film’s only dialogue, which sounds as though it was written by some type of malfunctioning algorithm. It’s unquestionably an experimental picture. But is the experiment successful? Perhaps a small percentage of the small number of people who end up seeing The Tree will think so.
Dvro (The Tree) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival 2018.