Terrence Malick and the Thought of Film

By (author) Steven Rybin

Publication date:

17 November 2011

Length of book:

236 pages


Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9780739166758

As the director of Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, and The New World, Terrence Malick has created a remarkable body of work that enables imaginative acts of philosophical interpretation. Steven Rybin's Terrence Malick and the Thought of Film looks closely at the dialogue between Malick's films and our powers of thinking, showing how his work casts the philosophy of thinkers such as Stanley Cavell, Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, André Bazin, Edgar Morin, and Immanuel Kant in new cinematic light.

With a special focus on how the voices of Malick's characters move us to thought, Terrence Malick and the Thought of Film offers new readings of his films and places Malick's work in the context of recent debates in the interdisciplinary field of film and philosophy. Rybin also provides a postscript on Malick's recently-released fifth film, The Tree of Life.
A painstaking craftsman, Malick has made only a handful of films in his career, but each bears the mark of a deeply individualistic director who makes only films in which he is really invested. He has completed five feature films in all--he is a meticulous auteur indeed--and this makes him an ideal subject for this detailed, compact book, as each film can have a chapter all to itself. Rybin (Georgia Gwinnett College) offers persuasive readings of Badlands (1973), which is based on the Charles Starkweather murder spree in Nebraska; the romantic period drama Days of Heaven (1978); the epic WW II narrative The Thin Red Line (1998); the underrated The New World (2005), which looks at the founding of the American colony at Jamestown, Virginia; and The Tree of Life (2011), a family drama set in 1950s Texas, which takes on cosmic overtones as the film progresses. This is a concise, measured, intelligent study of Malick's work, ideal for a course on his films or as an introduction for the general reader. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; graduate students; professionals; general readers.