Theater Tells ‘Tree of Life’ Audience to Have an “Open Mind,” Refuses Refunds

By  · Published on June 24th, 2011

The Tree of Life isn’t a film for everyone. You have to meet it halfway, it tests your patience at times, and it doesn’t fit normal storytelling conventions. If a viewer isn’t at all into experimental filmmaking and doesn’t know what “non-linear” means, then it’s most likely not a film for them. Because of this, some filmgoers should probably do their homework before going to Terrence Malick’s epic.

“Brad Pitt? Sean Penn? Dinosaurs? And the creation of earth!?! Awesome!” Some patrons must’ve gotten that impression, and the art house Avon Theater in Stamford, CT is responding to those theatergoers who would prefer a refund, rather than enduring a two and a half hour poem.

Here’s the “no refund” warning the theater put out:

Now, does this read at all as condescending? Even as someone who adores the film, there’s something inherently snobbish about this warning. I could easily see someone knowing what they’re paying for, but not ending up enjoying the experience. Not everyone dislikes The Tree of Life just because they “didn’t get it.” If a theater patron knew that they were getting an unconventional film but ended up being aggravated by its possible repetition and self-importance, why would they want to lose over 2 hours of their (possibly important) time and ten bucks over an unenjoyable experience?

Should a theater’s response to a dissatisfied filmgoer really be ‘you just didn’t get it’?

Source: In Contention

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Longtime FSR contributor Jack Giroux likes movies. He thinks they're swell.