Terrence Malick\'s To The Wonder Trailer - Oblique, Pretty, Overly Familiar
The overwhelming majority of drama is inherently social, being about people interrelating and also the viewer relating to that interplay, and an incredible amount of social interaction is to do with facial perception.It's conspicuous, then, that this trailer for Terrence Malick's To The Wonder features far less faces than the norm, and those we do see, we see typically from an obscure angle. Not one of the shots of people here uses the default, flat eye-level and invisible framing of a typical close-up or midshot.
Okay... but why? The film has its UK release set for February 22nd so I hope to find out what Malick is playing at then.
Fans of Malick might have fun chronicling how many of the shots in this trailer recycle imagery from The Tree of Life or even his earlier films. It'd be a long list, that's for sure. At least the textures of Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography merit another go-around.
This director has a vision, a look to his work and a common theme that will never get tired. He experiments and digs deeper into the emotions of his characters more than any other director of our time. I look forward to this film.
I saw this at the Toronto film festival a few months back. While I enjoyed it, it's really more like a B-side to his previous film The Tree of Life. It's very much 'by the numbers' Malick, if you know what I mean.
Of course this is a filmmaker who tends to create his films more like poems, while the majority of film are more based around novels, theatre or indeed comic books. Once you accept that, it's much easier to just lie back and let the film play out on its own terms.
This movie was filmed in Malick's home town of Bartlesville, Oklahoma -- coincidentally, also where I live and where they seem to be filming a fair few movies lately (August in Osage County is the most recent). I was driving around the block one day and, to my surprise, waved at Ben Affleck standing on a random porch. It was pretty surreal to see these movie stars in Podunk, and even stranger to see all our big landmarks (the Price Tower, that scene on the orange balcony is our community center, and I swear that scene with the Christmas lights is Johnstone Park). Looking forward to this!
Malick's films are usually about how we/the characters perceive and relate to the world around them, rather than being about human interaction. He gets quite subjective in his portrayals of this, showing us how the character perceived the situation and I'd say that's why there's less perfectly framed shots of faces - that's not how we see or remember people. We see the backs of their heads, the side of their face, all at funny angles. Or at least that's how I felt in Tree Of Life - we weren't seeing the scenes, we were seeing Sean Penn's memories of them.
As for Malick reusing shots, why not? They're great shots, and no one else is using them! He also uses similar editing and audio techniques across his films, not to mention his recurring pantheist themes. What can you say? He's a poet, he's an artist, he's an auteur. I find the visual consistency across his films to be part of the joy.
Originally Posted by TGC
I have never seen a Malick film. I should correct that sometime soon.
You'll be glad you did! I'd suggest starting with The Thin Red Line, because at least there's some great War scenes in there even if you aren't taken by Malick's style. Just as long as you go in knowing it's going the a Terrance Malick war film, rather than just a war film, you'll be fine.
Then again, there's not really a dud in there, so you can start with any.