Opus 161 — Thomas Wilfred

Mute the video. Thomas Wilfred’s Opus 161 played the divine light (?) in Terrence Malick’s film The Tree of Life.

1 thought on “Opus 161 — Thomas Wilfred”

  1. From baptismal water to votive candles, Terrence Malick’s film The Tree of Life is thick with overt religious imagery. With that in mind, what is the shimmering light in the bedroom? The scene I am speaking of is present in the film’s trailer (26 seconds in).

    Initially I believed it to be Thomas Wilfred’s “Opus 161,” a light composition that appears at the beginning and end of the film, as well as in a handful of key intervals throughout. (Malick evidently uses this light sculpture as a visual manifestation of the Creator.) I was trying to count how many times the “Opus 161″ composition found its way into the narrative, and after revisiting the bedroom image I am rethinking my original assessment.

    A New York Times reviewer said, “…a boy, in whispered voice-over, speaks directly to God, whose responses are characteristically oblique, conveyed by the rustling of wind in trees or the play of shadows on a bedroom wall.” This sentence leads me to suspect that the shadows on the wall might be different from the luminous cloud that bookends the film. Does anyone else concur with my initial belief that the light on the bedroom wall could be this Wilfred light sculpture?


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