All Things Terrence Malick – Read His Screenplays

Published On June 27, 2011 | By Mike Carroll | Filmmakers, Terrence Malick

Terence Malick framing up a shot on the set of “Days of Heaven.”

In a follow-up to last week’s post about Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, I’ve spoken with several people over the past week who’ve seen the film and had an almost identical emotional and personal reaction to the film as I did.

Here is a three-minute clip montage from the film to give you a sample of it’s diversity. Honestly, I’ve never witnessed anything like this:

The film is story without any apparent plot, as well as spiritual without being specifically religious. If anything it is a film about connections – man’s connection to himself, to his fellow man, to nature and the planet, and beyond that to the universe and existence.

Roger Ebert articulately this masterfully in his review of The Tree of Life, describing the film as “a prayer.”

Here also is a review by Jason Solomons from The Guardian U.K. He offers some insight and explanation into the meaning of some parts of the film that explain how much of a personal and autobiographical films this is:

“Researching the allegedly unknowable Malick recently, I learned – and I wouldn’t want reality to be a spoiler – that his brother, Larry, committed suicide in Spain while studying guitar under the teacher Andrés Segovia in 1968. In The Tree of Life, just before the mother receives the telegram, the camera floats past a teenager’s bedroom in which a guitar stands, propped up by the bed. Later in the film, we will see fleeting shots of a young brother practicing his guitar. This is hardly the cinema of a recluse, then, but a deeply personal work that reveals the author’s soul. It will strike chords with anyone who has ever questioned life and death.”

Much like his films, Terrence Malick is a mystery. He lives outside of Hollywood, somewhere in Texas, I believe, which is where he grew up. He’s following in the footsteps of Stanley Kubrick. He’s made a small number of films, each of which is a classic. Reclusive, he doesn’t allow behind-the-scenes footage or photographs to be taken of him. He’s only given one official interview in his entire film career. Supposedly he was at the Cannes Film Festival where The Tree of Life was premiered, yet he made no public appearances, again gave no interviews. In fact, nobody had any idea what he looked like as there hadn’t been a published photo of him in over a decade.

Visit the Screenplays page at to download Terence Mallick’s script for The Tree of Life, as well as his scripts for Badlands, Days of Heaven, The New World, and his script for Deadhead Miles, directed by Vernon Zimmerman in 197s with Alan Arkin.

Here is an article from ICG Magazine (International Cinematographer’s Guild) on Tree of Life director of photography Emanuel “Chivo” Lubezki and the filming.

Another article on the special effects work for Tree of Life by acclaimed effects master Dalton Trumbull, best known for designing the effects for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s of particular interest because they strived to do as many effects photographically and without the assistance of computer graphics as they could.

Interestingly, there is a privately maintained website devoted to Malick with on-location snap shots of him at work on his next film, which was shot last year in Texas, with Ben Affleck and Javier Bardem.

I also found a very interesting 20 minute film on the making of Malick’s first film and masterpiece Badlands.

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About The Author

Mike Carroll joined the digital revolution in 1999 with a Sony TRV900 camcorder and Final Cut Pro, when it was only Final Cut Pro and not version 2, 4 or a Suite.

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