Let’s break this hard discussion with one simple question, which is very dominant in the Terry’s very last movie! So, what do you think, guys, does the author believes in (1) God or in (2) Nature?
BTW Meeting with beloved and dead ones as seen in Contact by Zemeckis, and usage of archaic music, come on, let’s say, dunno, Terrence Davies, for example!
I don’t mind the negative opinion, but more specifics for these opinions would make the conversation more meaningful (unless you just want to say that you think he’s overrated—which you’ve already done). Perhaps the language problem is the biggest issue.
I was impressed by it’s beautyfull cinematography and liked it very much until I realised this movie is extremely unimaginative and has nothing to say.
The film isn’t fully satisfying for me, but I think you’re going too far. For me, the film seems an extension or progression from Badlands—the mythic/fairy tale quality; the view from an innocent dealing with life’s mysteries—in this case, building on the character of Kit—i.e., Bill (Gere). What is it about? For me, the film has a mysteriou, haunting quality, dealing with several themes: the notion of being cursed—which includes having a violent nature; the sense of being an outsider, being disenfranchised and ultimately doomed and crushed by the well-off (Sam Shepherd’s character). Btw, this makes me wonder if the film taps into a similar zeitgeist that like other 70s films such as, Taxi Driver and Blue Collar. It’s the working man that’s going to really get screwed.
Ultimately, I see the film as Malick moving closer to some personal issues that concern him. Bill seems to be a version of Jack (from Tree of Life), which is ostensbily Malick, himself. I don’t think the film is fully successful, but I think you’re way too dismissive.
The main problem that Malick is just extremely ambitious. It destroys the whole project. He wants to tell about life, about TRUTH.
I think Malick is ambitious, especially as his films progress, and I do agree that he wants to address serious questions and issues about existence, God, etc. But I don’t agree that it “destroys the whole project.” This sounds as if you’re saying that he’s more suited for conventional narratives or character studies—not poetic films dealing with abstract concepts. I don’t really agree with this. Personally, I don’t think he’s still developing as a filmmaker and hasn’t reached the full expression of what he wants to do.
I want to say something else about your comment about the way Malick’s films are just about beautiful pictures. I suspect that there’s a language problem here and you don’t mean this as harshly as it sounds—because it comes across as extremely dismissive. In any event, I just want to a couple of things about this:
Malick’s films aren’t just beautiful to look at—they’re uniquely beautiful; the composition, cinematography, editing, camera movements and synchronization with music and sound—are in a class by themselves. My sense is that you think this type of beauty is no big deal—that any good photographer could do the same thing. I don’t think that’s the case at all. In terms of the images, the only other filmmaker that I can think of in a similar way is Kubrick. Just in terms of the visual elements of the film—especially in terms of sheer beauty—I’d put directors like Tarr, Tarkovsky and Sokurov (although the visuals in Mother and Son impressed me) below him. The visual elements of his films have a grandeur about them that other filmmakers do not have (Kubrick being another one). That’s another thing that makes him unique, imo.
Also, the light. Maybe I haven’t watched enough films but the way he captures light in his films is pretty incredible—for me, intoxicating. In a way, I can enjoy the films purely for this reason. But I think there is a lot more to his films than beautiful pictures.
Finally, I think you can really see his technique getting better, a kind of refinement taking place. I’m speaking about the use of montage, camera movements, combined with music. For example, the ending of A New World. (When I watch the film again, I’ll try to analyze the scene). The scene demonstrates a progression from the previous films. Tree of Life also shows more refinment. (More later.)
“So, what do you think, guys, does the author believes in (1) God or in (2) Nature?”
If he didn’t believe in them both, there’s not really much of a conflict in the film, right? Or much of a resolution at the end (now whether he believes in them as literal truths or as metaphors is another matter).
So, what do you think, guys, does the author believes in (1) God or in (2) Nature?
Off the top of my head, I think Malick believes in God and sees Nature as something in opposition to God. I think TTRL and ToL really pushes me to this conclusion. In both films, nature seems closely associated with Darwinism. I would also closely associate it with “worldly” or “the world” in the Biblical sense (Jesus distinguishes His way from the world’s way.)
What makes this confusing, imo, is that Malick uses images of nature to convey this negative, darker side of nature as well as that which is associated with God—i.e. grace, love, etc. For example, in TTRL the crocodile seems to symbolize this darker side of nature; in ToL, the velaciraptors. On the other hand, the coconut symbolizes hope or grace in TTRL, while the sunflowers represent something similar in ToL.
The film disappoints me because it seems to rely on stale ideas (the beach scene to represent the after life). HOWEVER, the filmmaking in these scenes are of the highest order—breathtakingly so, imo. The scene involving the mother filling giving her child to God is quite extraordinary, imo—just as much for the sound and music as the visuals. Indeed, it’s a great synthesis of sound and images—in a way that recalls great music, the way it gradually builds to the climax. There’s also a dance element, in the way that the characters (the angels) move with the music. (What I really need to do is have clips and comment as the scene progresses.)
On a side note, people talk about the visual elements of Malicks films, but in the last three we can see how his use of sound—the ambient sounds and silence—and music is also quite exceptional. I don’t hear people mention this very much, but I think this aspect of his filmmaking is becoming on par with the visual aspects.
A part of me feel like Malick is still a work in progress—or that he’s moving into a different phase—which means we might see something even more impressive.
I’m talking about TTOL only! Terrence Malick wants to believe in God, imo, but he is to much impressed by the nature. Probably in his next film, when he’ll be older and close to natural death he’ll be close to beloved God.
I just think that he tries to reach those shores of Tarkovsky, Kubrick, and yes, yes, yes Sokurov, but his knowledge, his lyrics if you like are so selfish, he talks just to himself, artist talk to artist, Terrence talk to Mallck and Malick talk to Terrence. And his voice is so beautiful, beautiful, but, you know, those stories are well known, this is just another REVIEW.
Three stars out of five – one for visuals, one for some ideas and one for casting.
yeah,mostly because of language problems it sounds more harsh than it actually is. I don’t hate any director because filmmaking is a beautifull process anyway. But somehow I ignore his movies because watching his films I’ve never felt like the way I feel when I’m watching Breathless or let’s say Mr and Mrs Bridge ( to just name very different ones) or The Mirror by Tarkovsky.
I’m talking about TTOL only!
But why limit the question of God and nature to just TTOL? The other films—especially ToL—deal with this issue, even more directly in the latter)
Terrence Malick wants to believe in God, imo, but he is to much impressed by the nature.
Can you explain why you feel that way?
You’re talking about TTRL? Fwiw, the casting is not that important. (Note to Robert and Matt: if Malick’s films were the typical movie, I’d be with you on your “widget” (cringe) theory of acting.)
But somehow I ignore his movies because watching his films I’ve never felt like the way I feel when I’m watching Breathless or let’s say Mr and Mrs Bridge ( to just name very different ones) or The Mirror by Tarkovsky.
If Malick’s films don’t move you or excite you that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean he’s overrated, doesn’t have ideas, etc., right? And if you honestly think he is not a great filmmaker—or that his films are very good works of art—then that’s OK, too. However, if you’re going to take that position, backing up that position with specifics and detailed explanations would be more meaningful than just saying, “he’s overrated, etc.”
“stale ideas (the beach scene to represent the after life)”
Are we sure that the beach is intended to represent the afterlife? Couldn’t it be simply a visual metaphor for emotional reconciliation?
^ That’s what I thought. There’s nothing to suggest Sean Penn is dead. He passes through the doorway as he comes to terms with his past. The rest is a celebration of this acceptance.
At first, I thought the beach scene represented reconciliation, but now I think it also represents a future reconciliation, and an afterlife. The older Jack doesn’t die, but he receives a vision of what will happen in the future. (We talked about the way the film seems to be transhistorical or the way it seems to make the past, present and future occur simultaneously.)