THE NEW WORLD
2005, Warner Bros., 135 min, USA, Dir: Terrence Malick

Dreamy, effervescent and endlessly poetic, Terrence Malick’s reimagining of the 1607 founding of Jamestown and the legendary love triangle between Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell), Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher) and John Rolfe (Christian Bale) has recently been described by critics as a “misunderstood masterpiece.” Malick superbly crafts and endows his tale with a raw, haunting sense of realism: he famously chose to use natural lighting, handheld cameras and a painstakingly detailed set constructed just down-river from the original site of Jamestown. Historically and cinematically important, THE NEW WORLD is a refreshingly complex alternative to the simplified national foundational myths that currently populate American culture.


THE TREE OF LIFE
2011, Fox Searchlight, 139 min, USA, Dir: Terrence Malick

A young boy's troubled upbringing in the 1950s and the creation of the Earth are depicted with psychedelic reverence in Terrence Malick's visually operatic meditation on existence. Hunter McCracken stars as Jack, a Waco youth grappling with his relationship with his bristling father (a clench-jawed Brad Pitt, never better) while forming a close unit with his mother (Jessica Chastain, in a radiant performance) and younger brothers (Laramie Epler and Tye Sheridan). Powerful music by Mozart, Bach and Berlioz (to name only a few) accents the consummate soundtrack, while the designs of famed special effects artist Douglas Trumbull (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY) offer a staggering and kaleidoscopic crash course on the evolution of the universe. Director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki’s lyrical cinematography is perfectly harmonious with Malick’s poetic style. With Sean Penn.


DAYS OF HEAVEN
1978, Paramount, 95 min, Dir: Terrence Malick

Director Terrence Malick’s lyrical tone poem set at the turn of the 20th century tracks impoverished Chicago couple Richard Gere and Brooke Adams as they migrate to the Texas Panhandle and masquerade as brother and sister to find farm work. When their smitten, terminally ill boss (Sam Shepard) proposes to Adams, the couple see a way out of their poverty. But after the marriage, Shepard seemingly recovers, and tragic complications gradually unfold. Gorgeous, thoughtful and at times achingly romantic, this ambitious working-class epic set the standard for Malick’s future films - passionate, moody and serene meditations on the human condition set in a tragic dimension. Nestor Almendros won the Oscar for Best Cinematography. Co-starring Linda Manz.


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