The Terrence Malick Machine Is On A Roll

With his new film To The Wonder debuting at the 69th Venice Film Festival in little over a week, famous philosophical slow coach Terrence Malick seems hell bent on challenging Woody Allen in the productivity stakes.

To the Wonder will get a Venice world premiere before shifting across to Toronto for its North American premiere. With P.T. Anderson’s The Master already getting sneak previews left, right and centre, Malick’s film is probably the biggest known unknown at the two festivals, although minor details are now emerging.

Following on from The Tree of Life (released a mere year ago), To the Wonder continues Malick’s move towards biography. Previously his CV has been dominated by impressive period films exploring American history, from the discovery of America in The New World via the depression and the fifties to the Second World War in The Thin Red Line,

The Tree of Life, although set in the past, was a more introspective personal film which held certain parallels with what little is known about Terrence Malick’s actual upbringing (domineering father, the loss of a brother).

To the Wonder seems set to follow this trend as it explores a relationship between a Midwesterner (Ben Afleck) who returns home with a woman he intends to marry, played by Olga Kurylenko. However, back in Oklahoma, and as his relationship runs into difficulty, he is drawn toward his childhood love, played by Rachel McAdam.

Cameron Bailey in his programme notes for TIFF 2012, suggests that the unconventional narrative style that dazzled some and infuriated others in Tree of Life is set to continue:

As Malick liberates himself more and more from the restrictions of conventional narrative and pursues a more associative approach, he gets closer to eliciting pure, subconscious responses from his viewers. It is gratifying to note that the same man who long ago wrote an uncredited draft of Dirty Harry now finds freedom in the transcendental.

The Malick movie machine continues on after To The Wonder though, with Knight of Cups due for release in 2013. A drama about a man searching for love, the cast is crammed with Hollywood talent, featuring Christian Bale in the lead with Ryan Gosling, Cate Blanchett, Freida Pinto, Natalie Portman and Lawless actor Jason Clarke all supporting him.

To add to the confusion, if not the wonder, a further untitled Malick project is listed in IMDB as being already in post-production. What makes this even more intriguing is that the cast list for the Untitled project is almost identical to that of Knight of Cups, sparking speculation that the two films could be related, perhaps recounting the same story from different perspectives, or simply being two parts of one longer narrative.

A documentary, Voyage of Time, recounting nothing less than the origins of the universe and narrated by Emma Thompson and Brad Pitt is also due for 2013 release, which if nothing changes is set to have three Malick directed films in the theatres. This feat will mean that in the less few years he will more than have doubled the output that saw him make four films in the space of 35 years.

The Terrence Malick machine is on a roll, folks!