It is interesting how many first films stand up to the test of time and are quite often a filmmaker's finest work.
It is always risky business and a great leap of faith to get behind someone's directing debut, but it is also true that in certain cases the artist that has been waiting with pent-up ambition and passion and the time to develop his or her personal, idiosyncratic and individual notions of how they are going to express themselves through cinematic language when given the chance (or creating their own opportunity) leads to the thrilling arrival of a new voice on the scene.
Terrence Malick's Badlands has to stand as one of the most auspicious debuts in American cinema.
I found this old set of lobby cards in the file, and it reminded me of the power of a film that I haven't revisited in some time, but still carry whole scenes around in my head.
I haven't seen "Tree of Life" yet because I've been a bit homebound with my surgery, but I am determined to see it while it is still in the theaters.
There is an interesting discussion about it raging here at Dave Kehr's great website for cineastes. From the sound of the heated exchanges, perhaps my "first film" theory still stands up for Malick.