Tuesday, March 12, 2013

To The Wonder and the Works of Terrence Malick

Theatrical release poster for To The Wonder.

This past week the official U.S. Theatrical poster and trailer for Terrence Malick's newest feature film, To The Wonder were released. I have been following this film attentively since The Tree of Life, and I truly have never been more anxious to see a film than I am right now.

Terrence Malick, known for his poetic style of film making, brings us another beautifully photographed film with his signature graceful voice-overs. It's difficult to deny that Terrence Malick has an eye for beauty, an appreciation for nature, and a very developed ideological perception of humanity. Ever since 1973, when he made his directorial debut with Badlands, he has proven his capabilities for creating a new model for cinematic experience. However, it is often that he receives criticism for being "pretentious" or that his films "have a lack of narrative structure." But what truly carries weight here is not whether you feel he's blowing hot air or that he's an absolute genius, but that he embodies entirely the idea of auteurship and if nothing else, he should be respected. He has been praised by many acclaimed directors for not only his refined craftsmanship but for his ability to take a very specific vision and perfectly portray it through one of the most pungent mediums, in his originally stylized manner. Production designer and often Malick collaborator, Jack Fisk describes Malick as "a philosopher that visualizes his thoughts." Many actors who have worked on a Terrence Malick film discuss how peculiar and contrasting it is to prepare for a role in one of his film, and to be on set with the crew.

Olga Kurylenko and Ben Affleck in To The Wonder
After working on To The Wonder, Olga Kurylenko spoke about working with Malick and preparing for her role as Marina:
"Terry talks to me about life, about what’s important, about what’s real, and about “the Wonder.”... I receive pages every morning, sometimes ten, sometimes more. They’re not exactly a script—whether one exists or not is a complete mystery—but the words are (excuse my poeticism) rather like a breakfast for the soul. And every morning it’s a feast! If I digest the sense of what the pages contain, the nature of Terry’s words will shine through my eyes while we’re filming, and I won’t even need to speak."

Rachel McAdams also spoke about working with Malick on To The Wonder:
"I definitely get confused. But I like that feeling, because it forces me into something else. You’re working different muscles, you’re being asked to participate a bit more than other times, when things all make sense, and it’s all wrapped up for you, and you don’t have to ask any questions, and you don’t have to feel confused, and you don’t have to feel angry because you don’t know what something means. And I think it’s a really interesting way to watch a film. I think we’re out of practice with it a little bit.”

Ben Affleck:
Javier Bardem in To The Wonder
"The experience of it seemed half-crazy in that we didn’t really have dialogue, so I didn’t really know what was happening. Then I realized that he was accumulating colors that he would use to paint with later in the editing room."

Javier Bardem:
"When you work with Terrence Malick, you don't expect anything...I'm deeply proud of being in one of his movies. I truly believe that The Tree of Life is a masterpiece, and the experience of working with him has been great. So the end result, you may like it or not, but what I will always hold with me will be the experience of working with him."

Christian Bale:
"I found his way of working to be so interesting, that it was actually possible to work that way. I think forever I'll be trying to edge other directors into adopting the same attitude that he always had on the set, which made it so very easy in each and every scene."

Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain in The Tree of Life
Brad Pitt:
"He's an extremely internal man, a Rhodes scholar, studied philosophy, has a love of science, a love of nature, a love of God...On a normal set it's very loud, generators going, over 100 crew members. There was none of that on this. There's one guy with a camera on his back, no lights, and we're free to roam wherever we want to roam."

Jessica Chastain:
"Terry would give us pages of dialogue that we could say in any order. And then we’d often redo the scene without dialogue. He’d say: “That's great, but now do the speech without the words.” And I had to convey what he wrote with my eyes and my body. Which is scary, but he made me feel like I could do anything."

To The Wonder tells a story about a man (Ben Affleck) who struggles between two loves, his recently married European wife (Olga Kurylenko), and an old childhood friend (Rachel McAdams). Upon seeing the newest and final theatrical trailer, my excitement and anticipation only grows exponentially for when To The Wonder comes to a theater in my area. Rachel McAdams says "It is such an interpretative film, and I think that it is so personal when watching it that there aren’t any right or wrong answers.” To The Wonder will be released in the United States on April 12th, 2013.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent writing. I'm sure this film will be spectacular.