Saturday, February 19, 2011

David B. Hart on Terrence Malick

One of my favorite current writers and thinkers, David Bentley Hart, mentioned one of my favorite living filmmakers, Terrence Malick, in a recent book review, and I was happy to learn that he's also a big fan. As I eagerly anticipate the release of Malick's Tree of Life, set to drop in a month or so, Hart's words have inspired me to revisit Malick's oeuvre. Here's the excerpt:

It may seem like a trivial question, but I cannot help wondering whether the title of this book [All Things Shining] has been lifted from the closing lines of Terrence Malick’s 1998 film adaptation of The Thin Red Line. It would make a kind of sense, given the themes of Malick’s films, and Malick’s Heideggerean background, and the way Heidegger seems to haunt this text like a genial specter. If so, then it seems to me that Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly might have done well to learn a few lessons from Malick—and from his mesmerizingly beautiful pagan-Christian-gnostic peregrinations—about the nature of the human longing for the divine, about its terrible ambiguity and urgency, and about its openness to both nature and grace. Because, in the end, All Things Shining is an oddly empty book: It asks so many seemingly deep questions, and then provides such incandescently shallow answers.

- David B. Hart.
Whooshing Through Life, First Things, March 2011.

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