May is Terrence Malick Month

I’ve declared May to be Terrence Malick Month. On my blog at least.

Why? Because something is happening this month that happens only about once every 93.5 months: A Terrence Malick film is being released. The reclusive, mysterious filmmaker has released only five films in his 40 year career. One in 1972 (Badlands), one in 1978 (Days of Heaven), one in 1998 after a mysterious two-decade absence from civilization (The Thin Red Line), one in 2005 (The New World), and then this year. In this case, the film in question is called The Tree of Life, and it’s been a long time since so much hype has surrounded a film that so little is known about.

The timeline for Terrence Malick festivities during #MalickMonth will be as follows:

May 8: Blog post about Malick’s 1st film, Badlands.

May 10: Blog post about his 2nd film, Days of Heaven.

May 12: Blog post about his 3rd film, The Thin Red Line.

May 14: Blog post about his 4th film, The New World.

May 16: The Tree of Life premieres at Cannes. I will post a roundup of post-Cannes reactions to the film from critics in attendance at the premiere.

May 27: Life opens in theaters. My review will post on Christianity Today‘s website.

So, that’s the plan. If you can’t tell… I’m a fan.

For those who haven’t seen the trailer yet, watch it now. Explore the amazing website.

Also, watch this first clip, released today exclusively to Entertainment Weekly.

From the looks of it, Malick’s continuing to explore an impressionistic, symphonic cinema of emotions and reverie–through fragments of image (heavy on the jump cuts), fragments of sound (dialogue and diegetic sound coming in and out), and classical music tying it all together. In this way, I anticipate the film to look and feel more like The New World (with its barely audible whispers of fragmented thoughts and emotions, strung together by Mozart and Wagner) than the more plot-driven films of Malick’s early career.

In other words: Don’t expect this film to have a readily apparent “meaning,” or a “plot” in the conventional sense. DO expect it to be a beautiful assemblage of poetic imagery, lyrical vignettes and grandiose cinema par excellence.

9 responses to “May is Terrence Malick Month

  1. I, for one, could not be more excited to see that you’ll be discussing Terrence Malick all month! I’ve been waiting for this film since the trailer was first released, and I’m trying to watch all of his films again in anticipation of The Tree of Life. Just out of curiosity, do you know if the film will be released nationwide or only in limited release on May 27? Also, thanks for linking to that clip!

    • Lyndsay,
      Thanks for the comment! As for the release, I actually think it might be limited on May 27… but for the sake of humanity, I hope not too limited!

  2. Looking forward to all this, Brett!

    Btw, if you haven’t heard already, LACMA is doing a FULL retrospective of Malick’s films, with guests like Sissy Spacek and Jack Fisk in attendance. I will go to as many screenings as I can. Spread the word!

    • I have been looking forward to the LACMA retrospective since it was announced. Hopefully I’ll see you there! I’m planning on at least going to Badlands and The New World… not sure if I’ll be able to make the other 2 nights.

  3. Malick was the first filmmaker, when I was about 17, to make me realize how powerful film could be. The Thin Red Line hit me in the chest. New Sofia Coppola and new Terrence Malick within 6 months of each other? Yes please.

    • I could have written this exact comment. Seeing The Thin Red Line in high school (I think I was 16) was a revelatory moment for me… definitely opened up the potentials of cinema in my mind.

  4. I remember visiting IMDB every few months hoping to see news about two movies- adaptations of favorite novels by favorite directors. Scorsese’s preproduction of Shusaku Endo’s Silence was there for ages, then disappeared. And Malick was supposedly trying to pull together Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer. That project predated the internet, at least in any popular sense, but word of it would pop up every once in a while. I think it is gone now too. I’m a little disappointed, but I’ll happily take what he’s giving.

  5. Don’t know about this. Films should tell strong stories. Also, NEW WORLD distorted a very important part of American history and great art should be about Truth, not just Beauty.

  6. Thanks for the review. Given Malick’s movie-per-decade pace, I was surprised to learn that he recently filmed a movie near me in Bartlesville, OK. Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams et al are in it.

    Do you know anything about this project?

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