Religious Ideas In Malick 's Films Research Paper

Length: 6 pages Sources: 3 Type: Research Paper Paper: #40386293 Related Topics: Main Character, Cell Phone, Film, Love Published September 22, 2022
Excerpt from Research Paper :

Editing in Malicks To the Wonder

One of the interesting approaches Terrence Malick takes to making cinema is that he often wants the viewer to experience the film rather than simply observe it or watch it. He wants the film to have an impact on the viewers emotions, mind, and memory. To accomplish this effect in his 2012 film To the Wonder, he relies on editing to create an experience for the viewer that is unlike anything else one might have experienced previously in a cinema. Since the film is a story about a European Catholic woman trying to find happiness in her life while at the same time trying to set herself right with God, Malick wants the viewer to experience what this struggle is like for the main character Marina. He wants the viewer to see the world through her eyes, hear her voice, and understand where she is coming fromand especially why the conflict is such an enormous one for her. On the one hand she wants earthly love, and on the other she wants to live the faith she has been taught, which tells her to look for happiness in the eternal world of the next life. The two impulses within her pull her in two different directions, and Malick wants the viewer to experience and to feel that pull. Malick is not interested in simply telling a story about the struggle: he wants it to be real to the viewer, and to make it real he uses various editing tricks, which jar the viewer and keep the viewer off balance and on the edge of the seat. Malick makes special use of the montage technique to convey psychological and emotional feeling rather than to give spatial or temporal sense. With the montage technique, editing is used in To the Wonder to create an impressionistic film that gives the viewer the sense of being in or part of the experience of the main characters. This paper will look at the opening and ending montage sequences in particular as they help to show how Malick uses the montage to convey the important sense of longing at the heart of the film.

The first scene in which editing is most notable is in the opening of the film when the viewer is introduced to the main characters, Marina of France, and Neil, an American with whom she is in love throughout a montage of romantic images that pour across the screen. The film opens with them on a trainbut the viewer is seeing Marina through Neils cell phone as he captures her image on his phone. It is not a normal cinematic lens that puts us into their world; rather, it is a cell phone lens, suggesting a more personal and yet distant feeling: we are pulled inbut we do not know who these people are and feel like strangers in their world. That is purposeful on Malicks part: his own characters are strangers to themselves as the film will show. The opening scene tells as much as Marina explains through voice over that her new love, Neil, has awakened her. Marina describes her life up to now: Newborn, I open my eyes. I melt into the eternal night. A spark.You got me out of the darkness. You gathered me up from earth. Youve brought me back to life, as Neil records her image and she dances for him on the train. Malick is showing that she feels alive for the first time in a long time, but that she is hurtling somewhere, ignorant of direction and destination, merely happy to feel joy. She…them through his own humble submission to the divine.

The film ends with Marina now on her own in the final montage sequence: she lifts herself from the groundnow in a foreign land, far from Neil in America. She is on her own spiritual pilgrimage. She is nourished by the dew drops on thistle, and she is accompanied by a tiny doglike Dorothys Toto in The Wizard of Oz. The dog carries a little light, to help her see the way, but on the horizon is a foreboding pack of wild dogs. They represent the wild spirit that Marina is prone to abandon herself to. She tries to wave them away and becomes overwhelmed in the process. Then a blinding light flashes across her eyes, and she is forced to look in the direction of the light. Malick uses a smash cut to bring the image of the Wonderthe old churchto the viewer. Then the film fades to black and credits roll, as Wagners music reaches a crescendo and fades. The montage sequence described here is the final one that Malick uses to make the viewer experience what it is like to be on that spiritual pilgrimage, alone, trying to move in the right direction, but being distracted by cares and concerns and needing to be reminded over and over again that the ultimate destination is not any passing happiness or allurement in this world but the eternal reward that awaits the faithful in heaven. That is the experience that Malick wants the viewer to have, and it is evident through his use of montagefrom the beginning, opening montage in which the conflict is revealed: two ideals pulling Marina in two directions; to the middle montage in which Marinas crisis comes to a head; to the concluding montage when a resolution is reached and…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Blasi, Gabriella. "The cinema of entanglement: how not to contemplate TerrenceMalick’s To the Wonder, Voyage of Time, and Knight of Cups." New Review of Film and Television Studies 17.1 (2019): 20-37.

Goodman, Daniel Ross. "To the wonder." Journal of Religion & Film 17.2 (2013): 13.

Hamilton, Julie M. "“What Is This Love That Loves Us?”: Terrence Malick’s To theWonder as a Phenomenology of Love." Religions 7.6 (2016): 76.

Malick, Terrence. To the Wonder. Focus Features, 2012.

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