Terence Malick is no ordinary director, no sir! This guy has attended Harvard and Oxford, the latter he left after a disagreement with his advisor over his thesis on the concept of the world in Kierkegaard, Heidegger and Wittgenstein. He shuns public life, hates celebrity and has only directed six films in a forty year career. Indeed, while at his relative peak after Badlands (1973) and Heaven’s Gate (1978) he took a twenty year sabbatical somewhere in France and it’s not public knowledge what he was up to.
Malick’s films are also different – they are beautifully shot, chock full of rich and striking images of natural beauty, lulling the watcher into them. Things drift by, dramatic moments and narrative drive are not witnessed but more sensed, experienced even. His movies are timeless wanderings, the lack of conventional structure adding to the depth of possibilities that may or may not happen, indeed I reckon that Malick’s audience experience countless thoughts and feelings when involved with his work. While most American cinema craves to be at the moment when it all goes off, Malick is not, he dwells in the before and after, he ain’t like the rest, he isn’t obsessed with the actual action, more the lead-up and the reaction.
Malick’s characters possess the screen alright but not much more than we the audience do, I mean they are being pulled and drawn across this startling canvas as much as we are. Malick is ultimately detached but remarkably he makes the world so compelling, attractive and alluring. Though, don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t make us feel all cuddly and warm for living here, no rather we feel disconcerted for the world may look captivating but neither us or his characters are able to co-exist within it. Malick’s characters are all drifters, they have no centre, they move, the world they are moving across may be compelling, but they don’t stick, they move.
Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell Shortt, http://www.exploringireland.net