Family Tree

“The Christmas tree of one’s childhood is replaced by the Family Tree,” says Nabokov, but alas some people never grow up, or they grow mad and must destroy some windmill dear to us but in their darkened or juvenile mind an enemy to the shiny new things they crave so.

The events of this film happen nearly as often in real life nowadays as serial murders and high school massacres. The dragon in this instance is not a venerable building (or a cinematic masterpiece) but an ancient oak tree. The direction is negligible, which guaranteed its perpetrator a career in latter-day television. Aside from general principles, its primary virtue is that it has realized the dramatic vitality of the situation by compressing truth, beauty, and genius into Robert Forster, Naomi Judd (at the breakfast table sans her stage makeup), and Cliff Robertson, respectively.