Try explaining to a child where the world, indeed where the universe came from, and you could find it difficult, especially if they have ever looked up at the sky and taken in the vastness of creation from the perspective of Planet Earth: of course they would have questions. But if we were to go back to the beginning of time itself, to the vast explosion that was the Big Bang, what would we see? Say we had the power to travel back and witness the creation and development of Earth...
When Terrence Malick released his meditative film The Tree of Life, there were many who were not sure what to make of him showing off his deep thinker credentials in sequences that were actual visual effects extravaganzas, not his accustomed territory at all. However, he was not including this cosmic imagery for nothing, he was genuinely engaged in nature (which you could have guessed, to be fair) and the matters of where humanity had come from and where it was eventually going to.
When he announced he was going to direct a religious movie about passages from the Bible connected to Jesus Christ, perhaps some of this searching quality fell into place. Voyage of Time was released in two versions, one twice the length of the other, but most would have seen the version with the Brad Pitt narration lasting three quarters of an hour, though whether Brad sustaining the "Wow!" in his tones for that amount of running time was necessary was debatable when the pretty pictures spoke for themselves.
This was, considering the billions of years it described, a rush through the history of our world at breakneck speed, all presented in a somewhat sleepy fashion that presumably had many dads who had seen this in IMAX, where it was intended to be projected, slipping in and out of a pleasant doze. It was assuredly a relaxing watch, and if you kept your eyes open you would be rewarded with an abundance of splendiferous portraits, some of them genuine footage of animals and plants that were still about today, and some of them CGI dinosaurs of the sort that had some viewers scoffing when they saw The Tree of Life's more fanciful sequences.
There was also a realisation of the supposed event that saw off those dinosaurs, a huge meteorite hurtling across the sky to fall into the sea with disastrous results for the lizards which had been the dominant lifeform on Earth. After that we had the animals that survived (a handful of them, anyway) and early mankind, here represented by Australian aborigines playing, if not cavemen, then primitive humanity, which may rankle with some. As would the choice of music, choral religious efforts that underlined the Christian timbre of Malick's outlook: that may make many feel excluded if this was not your point of view of creation. But if you did want a singular vision, less of a documentary and more a spiritual mood piece, then Voyage of Time was a feast for the eyes, despite its essentially soporific stylings working against awe.
[Click here to watch on MUBI.]