malick enters a new world

Terrence Malick is a filmmaker. It may be necessary for me to remind you of this since he has made only three feature length films in his nearly 40 year career.

I suppose that's okay if two of the films you make are Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line.

His visual sense is impeccable, which is good because there isn't much in the way of dialogue in Malick's films. If you discount the narration (and even that is pretty sparse) Days of Heaven has maybe 500 words of spoken dialogue spread out over its 95 minutes. Maybe less. The film simply doesn't need dialogue, the tension of the relationships and the excellent visuals sustain the film.

The same is true of Thin Red Line. Compare that film with Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. Both films are masterpieces but whereas Spielberg seems to relish the occaisonal melodramatic moment ("Earn this"), Malick is completely immune to the tearjerker reflex. "Thin Red Line," and more so "Days of Heaven" feel at points like documentaries. Even the narrator of "Days," herself a main character, seems remote from the events she relates and participates in. There are no sad elegies in Malick's work.

Malick has a new film coming out soon. It's called The New World and is a retelling of the John Smith & Pocohontas saga. And if the following lead from a Hollywood Reporter article is any indication, it's going to be vintage Malick:

Terrence Malick's "The New World" is a visual tone poem orchestrated around the themes of innocence, discovery and loss.

Obviously, Malick didn't finish plumbing the depths of those themes in his previous films. I don't know that this is a bad thing. Those are powerful ideas and Terrence Malick knows how to create powerful images and stories around them.

The cast of this film includes Colin Ferrell, Wes Studi, Irene Bedard, Christian Bale, Jonathan Pryce, David Thewlis, and Cristopher Plummer. The film runs 150 minutes and is rated PG-13 for violence but, as is typical of Malick, no sex. Here's a detailed review from Slant.


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