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. Beginning as part of the New Hollywood film-making wave with landmark films such as Badlands (1973) and Days of Heaven (1978), Malick's films have gained a reputation for their philosophical qualities and exquisite cinematography, as well as their sporadic release dates; in a career spanning over four decades, Malick currently has directed and released only seven feature films.
Although Malick's early films in the 20th century were critically acclaimed, his later films, such as The Tree of Life (2011), have possessed increasing disregard of conventional narrative and have received divisive responses from critics, with some who criticize his filmmaking to be self-indulgent and meandering, while others praise him for having a visionary style and approach.
Film critic Roger Ebert considered Malick as one of 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
- 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 and Knight of Cups.
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 tutor, 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 an early uncredited draft of Dirty Harry (1971) and Drive, He Said (1971), and is credited with the screenplay for Pocket Money (1972). Under the pseudonym David Whitney, Malick was also co-writer of The Gravy Train (1974). After one of his screenplays, Deadhead Miles (1973), was made into what Paramount Pictures believed was an unreleasable film, Malick decided to direct his own scripts.
Malick's first work as a director was Badlands (1973), 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 the industry, such as doctors and dentists. This resulted in half of the budget, with the other half being raised by executive producer Edward Pressman, and an extra $25,000 from Malick's own personal savings. After a troubled production, which included many crew members leaving half-way through the shoot, Badlands drew raves at its premiere at the New York Film Festival, leading to Warner Bros. buying distribution rights for three times its budget.
Days of Heaven
Malick's second film was the Paramount Pictures produced Days of Heaven (1978), 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, and was shot using primarily only natural light during magic hour. Much like Malick's first feature, Days of Heaven had a lengthy and troubled production, with several of the production crew quitting before the film was finished shooting, 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 set out to make was not working. The film was finally released in 1978, and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, as well as the prize for Best Director at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival.
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 Sansho the Bailiff, which was to be directed by Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda, in addition to continuing work on the Q script. Malick's work on Q eventually became the basis for his 2011 film, The Tree of Life. Longtime production designer on Malick's films Jack Fisk says that he was shooting film during this time as well.
Return to cinema
The Thin Red Line
Twenty years after Days of Heaven, Malick returned to film directing in 1998 with The Thin Red Line, a loose adaptation of the James Jones' World War II novel of the same name, for which he gathered a large ensemble of famous stars. Filming took place predominantly in the Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, Australia, and the Solomon Islands. Upon release the film received critical acclaim, 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 was shot, and three different cuts of varying length were released. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, but received generally mixed reviews during its theatrical run.
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 reconciling 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.
To the Wonder
Malick's sixth feature, titled To the Wonder, was shot predominately 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 Weightless
On November 1, 2011, Filmnation Entertainment announced international sales for Malick's next two projects: Lawless (now re-titled Weightless) 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 Weightless 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 Weightless. 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, and Malick's most experimental film yet. Weightless has completed post-production, though is still awaiting a release date, 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. Brad Pitt was signed to do the narration. 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. Voyage of Time will have its US IMAX release on October 7.
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.
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.
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 relationship with Michèle Marie Morette and Alexandra Wallace was explored in his 2012 semi-autobiographical film, To the Wonder.
- 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)
- Weightless (upcoming)
- Radegund (upcoming)
Awards and nominations
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- Ebert, Roger (2 June 2011). "The Tree of Life Movie Review (2011)". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
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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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- Keyser, Les. Hollywood in the Seventies, London: Tantivy Press, 1981.
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- Newman, Kim. "Whatever Happened to Whatsisname?", Empire, February 1994, 88–89.
- Riley, Brooks. "Interview with Nestor Almendros", Film Comment, 14:5, September/October 1978, 28–31.
- Telotte, J. P. "Badlands and the Souvenir Drive", Western Humanities Review, 40:2, Summer 1986, 101–14.
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- Wondra, Janet. "A Gaze Unbecoming: Schooling the Child for Femininity in Days of Heaven", Wide Angle, 16:4, October 1994, 5–22.
|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