Malick at the 1993 Viennale
|Born||Terrence Frederick Malick
November 30, 1943
Ottawa, Illinois, United States
|Alma mater||Harvard University
Magdalen College, Oxford
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter, producer|
|Spouse(s)||Jill Jakes (1970–1976)
Michèle Morette (1985–98)
Alexandra Wallace (1998–present)
Terrence Frederick Malick (//; born November 30, 1943) is an American film director, screenwriter and producer. He began his career as part of the New Hollywood film-making wave with the critically acclaimed films Badlands (1973) and Days of Heaven (1978), before a lengthy hiatus. Malick returned to directing with movies such as The Thin Red Line (1998), The New World (2005), and The Tree of Life (2011). These films were marked by philosophical and spiritual overtones, as well as the use of meditative voice-overs from individual characters, and initially polarized audiences and critics; some felt these elements made the films engaging and unique while others found them pretentious and gratuitous. Their critical standing improved over time, and The Tree of Life became arguably Malick's most acclaimed film, while his next film, 2012's To the Wonder, proved one of his most divisive.
Film critic Roger Ebert wrote that Malick was among the few remaining directors who yearn "to make no less than a masterpiece"; he noted Malick's films to have a unifying common theme: "Human lives diminish beneath the overarching majesty of the world."
- 1 Early life
- 2 Film career
- 2.1 Early career
- 2.2 1970s
- 2.3 Hiatus
- 2.4 Return to cinema
- 2.5 2010s
- 2.6 Current and future projects
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Filmography
- 5 Awards and nominations
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Terrence Malick was born in Ottawa, Illinois. He is the son of Irene (née Thompson; 1912–2011) and Emil A. Malick (1917–2013), a geologist. His paternal grandparents were Assyrian Christian immigrants from Syria and Lebanon. Malick attended St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, while his family lived in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Malick had two younger brothers: Chris and Larry. Larry Malick was a guitarist who went to study in Spain with Andrés Segovia in the late 1960s. In 1968, Larry intentionally broke his own hands due to pressure over his musical studies. Their father Emil went to Spain to help Larry, but his son died shortly after, apparently committing suicide. The early death of Malick's younger brother has been explored and referenced in his films The Tree of Life (2011) and Knight of Cups (2015).
Malick received a A.B. in philosophy from Harvard College, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1965. He did graduate work at Magdalen College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar. After a disagreement with his advisor, Gilbert Ryle, over his thesis on the concept of world in Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein, Malick left Oxford without a degree. In 1969, Northwestern University Press published Malick's translation of Heidegger's Vom Wesen des Grundes as The Essence of Reasons.
After returning to the United States, Malick taught philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology while freelancing as a journalist. He wrote articles for Newsweek, The New Yorker, and Life.
Malick started his film career after earning an MFA from the AFI Conservatory in 1969, directing the short film Lanton Mills. At the AFI, he established contacts with people such as actor Jack Nicholson, longtime collaborator Jack Fisk, and agent Mike Medavoy, who procured for Malick freelance work revising scripts. He wrote early uncredited drafts of Dirty Harry (1971) and Drive, He Said (1971), and is credited with the screenplay for Pocket Money (1972). Malick was also co-writer of The Gravy Train (1974), under the pseudonym David Whitney. After one of his screenplays, Deadhead Miles, was made into what Paramount Pictures believed was an unreleasable film, Malick decided to direct his own scripts.
Malick's first feature-length work as a director was Badlands, an independent film starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek as a young couple on a crime spree in the 1950s Midwest. It was influenced by the crimes of convicted teenage spree killer Charles Starkweather. Malick managed to raise the money himself by approaching figures outside of the industry, such as doctors and dentists. This generated half of the budget, with the other half being raised by executive producer Edward R. Pressman, and an extra $25,000 from Malick's own personal savings. After a troubled production that included many crew members leaving halfway through the shoot, Badlands drew raves upon its premiere at the New York Film Festival. As a result, Warner Bros. bought distribution rights for three times its budget.
Days of Heaven
Malick's second film was the Paramount-produced Days of Heaven, about a love triangle that develops in the farm country of the Texas Panhandle in the early 20th century. Production began in the fall of 1976 in Alberta, Canada. The film was mostly shot during the magic hour, with primarily natural light. Much like Malick's first feature, Days of Heaven had a lengthy and troubled production, with several members of the production crew quitting before shooting was finished, mainly due to disagreements over Malick's idiosyncratic directorial style. The film likewise had a troubled post-production phase, as Billy Weber and Malick spent two years editing, during which they experimented with unconventional editing and voice-over techniques once they realized the picture they had set out to make would not fully work.
Days of Heaven was finally released in 1978 to mostly positive, although not unanimously positive, responses from critics. Its cinematography was widely praised, although some found its story lackluster. In The New York Times, Harold C. Schonberg wrote that it "is full of elegant and striking photography; and it is an intolerably artsy, artificial film." However, it later won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and the prize for Best Director at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival. Days of Heaven has since grown in stature, having been voted one of the 50 greatest American films ever made in a 2015 critics' poll published by BBC.
Following the release of Days of Heaven, Malick began developing a project for Paramount, titled Q, that explored the origins of life on earth. During pre-production, he suddenly moved to Paris and disappeared from public view for years. During this time, he wrote a number of screenplays, including The English Speaker, about Josef Breuer's analysis of Anna O.; adaptations of Walker Percy's novel The Moviegoer and Larry McMurtry's The Desert Rose; a script about Jerry Lee Lewis; and a stage adaptation of the Japanese film Sansho the Bailiff which was to be directed by Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda, in addition to continuing work on the Q script. Although Q has never been made, Malick's work for the project provided material for his later film The Tree of Life and eventually became the basis for Voyage of Time. Jack Fisk, a longtime production designer on the director's films, said that Malick was shooting film during this time as well.
Return to cinema
The Thin Red Line
Malick returned to directing with The Thin Red Line, a work released two decades after his previous film. A loose adaptation of James Jones' World War II novel of the same name, it features a large ensemble cast including Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, and George Clooney. Filming took place predominantly in the Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, Australia, and the Solomon Islands. It received strongly positive reviews from critics, was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and won the Golden Bear at the 49th Berlin International Film Festival.
The New World
After learning of Malick's work on an article about Che Guevara during the 1960s, Steven Soderbergh offered Malick the chance to write and direct a film about Guevara that he had been developing with Benicio del Toro. Malick accepted and produced a screenplay focused on Guevara's failed revolution in Bolivia. After a year and a half, the financing had not come together entirely, and Malick was given the opportunity to direct The New World, a script he had begun developing in the 1970s. He left the Guevara project in March 2004. Soderbergh directed Che (2008). The New World, which featured a romantic interpretation of the story of John Smith and Pocahontas in the Virginia Colony, was released in 2005. Over one million feet of film were shot, and three different cuts of varying lengths were released. While the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, critical reception was divided throughout its theatrical run; many praised its visuals and acting while finding its narrative unfocused.
The Tree of Life
Malick's fifth feature, The Tree of Life, was filmed in Smithville, Texas, and elsewhere during 2008. Starring Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, and Sean Penn, it is a family drama spanning multiple time periods; it focuses on an individual's struggle to reconcile love, mercy and beauty with the existence of illness, suffering and death. It premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d'Or. It also won the FIPRESCI Award for the Best Film of the Year. At the 84th Academy Awards, it was nominated for three awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director for Malick, and Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki. A limited theatrical release in the United States began on May 27, 2011. The Tree of Life was later voted the 79th greatest American film of all time in a 2015 BBC Culture poll of 62 international film critics. It was also ranked the seventh-greatest film since 2000 in a worldwide critics' poll by BBC.
To the Wonder
Malick's sixth feature, To the Wonder, was shot predominantly in Bartlesville, Oklahoma; a few scenes were filmed in Pawhuska, Oklahoma and at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa. The film premiered at the 69th Venice International Film Festival. It is described in the program notes as "an exploration of love in its many forms". The film stars Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Olga Kurylenko, and Javier Bardem.
Knight of Cups and Song to Song
On November 1, 2011, Filmnation Entertainment announced international sales for Malick's next two projects: Lawless (now known as Song to Song) and Knight of Cups. Both films feature large ensemble casts, with many of the actors crossing over into both films. The films were shot back-to-back in 2012, with Song to Song primarily shot in Austin, Texas, and Knight of Cups in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
During the weekend of September 16, 2011, Malick was photographed and caught on film while on set for one of the first times ever, while he and a small crew were following Christian Bale and Haley Bennett around the Austin City Limits Music Festival as part of preliminary shooting for Song to Song. He was also seen directing Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara at the Fun Fun Fun Fest on the weekend on November 4, 2011.
Knight of Cups was released in 2015, and has been considered more divisive than The Tree of Life and To the Wonder. Song to Song is scheduled to be released on March 17, 2017 by Broad Green Pictures, and has been described by producer Nicolas Gonda as "a shot of adrenaline".
Voyage of Time
Concurrent with these two features, Malick has been working on an IMAX documentary, titled Voyage of Time. The Hollywood Reporter described it as "a celebration of the Earth, displaying the whole of time, from the birth of the universe to its final collapse." The film expands on the footage that special effects luminaries Douglas Trumbull (2001) and Dan Glass (The Matrix) created for The Tree of Life. Footage from the film was screened for investors at the Cannes Film Festival and world sales rights were later picked up by The Wild Bunch.
The film will be released in two versions, a 40-minute IMAX version (Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience) with narration by Brad Pitt, and a 90-minute feature-length version (Voyage of Time: Life's Journey) that will be narrated by Cate Blanchett. The feature-length version had its world premiere on September 7, 2016 at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival, where it is competing for the Golden Lion. Voyage of Time: Life's Journey will also screen at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. The IMAX version of the film was released in IMAX on October 7, 2016, by IMAX Corporation and Broad Green Pictures.
Current and future projects
On June 23, 2016, reports emerged that Malick's next film will be titled Radegund, and will depict the life of Austria’s Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector during World War II who was put to death at the age of 36 for undermining military actions, and was later declared a martyr and beatified by the Catholic Church. Set to play Jägerstätter is August Diehl and Valerie Pachner as his wife Franziska Jägerstätter.
The film is set to begin production in Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam, Germany in the summer of 2016, but it will also expand to other parts of Europe. The casting agency Han & Oldenburg also reports a shoot in Brixen and South Tyrol, located in northern Italy, which will occur from July 11, 2016 through to August 19, 2016. During the month of August 2016, some scenes of the film were also shot in the small Italian mountain village of Sappada.
Speaking about the film in a Q&A in Princeton, New Jersey, Malick said that, compared with his more recent films, with Radegund he had “repented and gone back to working with a much tighter script."
Italian actor Roberto Benigni has stated that Malick approached him in the late 90s to star as Satan in a film based on the life of Saint Peter. Benigni further explained that the two are still in contact and that the film may still one day get made.
While the common conception of Malick as a recluse is inaccurate, he is nevertheless famously protective of his private life. His contracts stipulate that his likeness may not be used for promotional purposes, and he routinely declines requests for interviews.
From 1970 to 1976, Malick was married to Jill Jakes. His companion afterward in the late 1970s was director and screenwriter Michie Gleason. In 1985 in France, he married  Michèle Marie Morette, whom he met in Paris in 1980; in 1996, Malick asked for a divorce, which was granted. Afterward he married Alexandra "Ecky" Wallace, his high-school sweetheart. Malick's semi-autobiographical film To the Wonder was inspired by his relationships with Morette and Wallace.
- Badlands (1973)
- Days of Heaven (1978)
- The Thin Red Line (1998)
- The New World (2005)
- The Tree of Life (2011)
- To the Wonder (2012)
- Knight of Cups (2015)
- Voyage of Time (2016)
- Song to Song (2017)
- Radegund (2018)
Awards and nominations
Malick has received three Academy Award nominations; two for Best Director, for The Thin Red Line and The Tree of Life, and a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for the former film. He was awarded the Golden Bear at the 49th Berlin International Film Festival for The Thin Red Line, and the Palme d'Or at the 64th Cannes Film Festival for The Tree of Life.
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The New World encountered a split reception upon its release in 2005. And yet, as will be mentioned later, the film has grown in stature with time ... Malick followed The Tree of Life, arguably his most acclaimed film, with To the Wonder, arguably his most derided one ... It is too early, then, to analyze the reception of Knights of Cups, though early indications are that, like To the Wonder, critical response will be wildly inconsistent.
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Michele Morette, his late ex-wife of 13 years, revealed that while they were together she wasn't allowed into his office, and that he would rather buy her a copy of a book than lend her his own.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Terrence Malick.|
- Terrence Malick at the Internet Movie Database
- Terrence Malick at AllMovie
- Works by or about Terrence Malick in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- on YouTube, movie clip compilation, 3 min.
- Dossier about Terrence Malick, La furia umana, n°10 texts: English, Spanish, French, Italian by Joe McElhaney, Alain Bergala, Carlos Losilla, Jean-Cristophe Ferrari, Alessandro Cappabianca, and others; edited by Toni D'Angela