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Malick's Microcosm: A Review of "Tree of Life"

The old New England Primer, used to educate schoolchildren in colonial America, started much the same way as that other foundational textbook, the Bible: "In Adam's Fall, We Sinned All."

The little sentence was assigned to the letter A, but it was a lot bigger than that.

There's plenty about colonial America I wouldn't want to replicate, but I kind of like this stark beginning to an education. It reminds me that children can handle the tricky stuff just as well as they handle the animals on the ark and Jesus telling the little children to come to him. Good storytellers know this: Pixar, for instance, starts their films with tragedy - something they inherited from Disney - and the fairy tales of old involve princesses trapped in towers and children being fattened up by witches.

Certainly children need affirmation. But kids aren't dumb. They know from a young age that they're not perfect, that the world is not perfect, and this line about the fall of man is a pretty good place to start: a longing for a lost Eden.

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