Terrence Malick has a way of making the most ordinary things seem positively monumental, even Biblical. That tendency has hit an apex, perhaps, with The Tree of Life (and To the Wonder, probably, which I haven’t seen, but the priest character isn’t in there by accident), but even as far back as Badlands and Days of Heaven, it’s there. It’s there in the cinematography, the pacing, the voiceovers…everything that makes a Malick film a Malick film.
Days of Heaven follows a trio of migrant workers in 1916 America – a man, his young sister, and his lover,who pretends to be his sister as well, because he thinks it’ll require less explanation. If you’re Biblically minded, this pretense may already suggest a portion of the story of Abraham, when his entourage is traveling around and he pretends Sarah is his sister instead of his wife, for even less explicable reasons. In the Bible story, the king of the land takes a shine to Sarah and intends to marry her, but Abraham ponies up that she’s his wife, and the king is like “whoa, sorry dude” and everything’s cool. In Days of Heaven, the plantation owner takes a shine to the woman, Abby, and the man, Bill, comes up with a plan for her to marry the owner, who he overhears is terminally ill, so she (and by extension, Bill) can inherit the plantation.
I‘ve been listening to this piece of music over and over for the last two days, and I finally had to share it. I’ve heard of Bedřich Smetana and Má Vlast before (I likely listened to it all the way through before I went to Prague, as Smetana is one of the foremost Czech composers of all time), but the immediate cause of my current infatution is Terrence Malick’s use of themes from this particular movement in his recent film The Tree of Life. It makes up the majority of the music in the trailer, and is featured prominently in the film as well, alongside Alexandre Desplat’s original score and various other classical pieces. It’s pretty brilliant.
And here’s the Tree of Life trailer if you haven’t seen it yet. The film, which just won Cannes’ prestigious Palme d’or award for best film, is in limited release in NY and LA, and should be expanding soon. It’s a heady and transcendent experience, and a welcome change from the usual summer blockbuster fare, so I highly recommend you check it out if you get the opportunity. In the meantime, I’m going to listen to Smetana some more.
In May I was home for a few weeks, and took advantage of the amazing St. Louis library system to knock several films off my 2007 Goal list. Then I got burned out on that and just watched some random old stuff. After the jump, reactions to Spider-Man 3, The Great Dictator, They Were Expendable, Taxi Driver, Unforgiven, The New World, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and more.
I have a Music post in the works, but I was focusing on getting this thing finished. Tomorrow.