By Adam B. Vary
Updated December 15, 2010 at 09:27 PM EST

Anyone who’s seen Black Swan in theaters in the last two weeks has also likely seen the trailer for The Tree of Life, the long-in-the-works new film from writer-director Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, The New World). (The film was left in limbo for nearly a year due to the instability of the now-defunct indie studio Apparition, until Fox Searchlight swept in and acquired it for release in 2011.) The trailer’s now hit the interwebs, and I can tell you it features Brad Pitt as a stern father in a 1950s Midwestern small town, and Sean Penn as his grown son living roughly in the present day and seemingly plagued with existential ennui. I can also tell you it features a series of sweeping, abstract shots, many of them set in outer space, that are at once utterly stunning and pretty darn unusual for a movie trailer featuring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn: What looks like an asteroid crashing into the ocean; a celestial body shot in silhouette against a giant sweltering star; an alien-seeming rocky landscape, perhaps that same asteroid that is apparently crashing to Earth. But I cannot tell you how any of those metaphysical cosmological vistas relates to the father/son story with Pitt and Penn. Still, you can also count me pretty darn intrigued by the prospect of a grandly experimental feature film starring two of Hollywood’s most iconic stars. Check out the trailer, and see for yourself:

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