This December, Terrence Malick is returning to epic narrative filmmaking in a major way with “A Hidden Life.” The historical drama debuted at Cannes to rave reviews, with many hailing the film as Malick’s greatest achievement since his Palme d’Or winner and magnum opus “The Tree of Life.” The latter went on to earn Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. Fox Searchlight was behind the release of “The Tree of Life,” and now the indie powerhouse is back with Malick for “A Hidden Life.”
Whether he’s playing an outsider or not, Pitt’s often at his best when he’s being observed from the outside by a more central character. In A River Runs Through It (1992), he’s the radiant, reckless younger brother who burns too bright for this world in the memories of his older sibling, played by Craig Sheffer. He’s a father in The Tree of Life (2011), looming in the life of the main character, Jack, as a figure revered and feared as he tries to shape his son into what he believes a man should be. In The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), he’s a train robber as celebrity, radiantly and deliberately distant, refracted through the obsessive adoration of his eventual killer (Casey Affleck).
The 20 Best Movie Scores of the Decade
From Jonny Greenwood’s “Phantom Thread” score to Jonny Greenwood’s “You Were Never Really Here” score, here’s the best movie music of the 2010s.
By David Ehrlich, Kate Erbland, Chris O’Falt, Michael Nordine
Jul 26, 2019 11:00 am
18. “The Tree of Life” (Alexandre Desplat)
It isn’t easy to score a Terrence Malick film. For one thing, you never know how much of your music will actually make it into the final cut, or when that cut might see the light of day. For another, your contributions will likely have to compete with several of the greatest orchestral compositions ever written, as Alexandre Desplat discovered when the brunt of the symphonic pieces he contributed to “The Tree of Life” were thrown aside in favor of timeless masterworks from the likes of Gustav Mahler, Hector Berlioz, and Johannes Brahms. It’s hard to compete with Brahms!
But Desplat, who tends to excel in a classical vein, delivered one of his best scores anyway. Malick may be ruthless, but he also has a way of finding the perfect images to make someone’s music feel transcendent (just ask Ennio Morricone). Desplat’s subtle, insistent arrangements lend a delicate forcefulness to Malick’s vision of the past, and layer a hushed awe over his glimpse of the future. The score is used sparingly, but it sometimes literally strings the movie together as Malick connects the dots between the Big Bang and Sean Penn. It’s a thing of quiet wonder, and a powerful reminder that Malick eventually gets the best out of his collaborators. —DE
But especially since the 2011 release of his magnum opus The Tree of Life, which was acclaimed by Roger Ebert as one of the ten greatest films ever made, Malick has unapologetically explored the mysteries of creation and death, sin and grace, and suffering and resurrection.
R.L.: Where’s Dad?
Mother: He’s gone on a trip.
(Footsteps Running) (Boys Laugh)
R.L.: Whoo! Whoo!
Mother (being chased with lizard): No!
Boys: Open the door!
Mother (Voiceover): Help each other.
Jack: Do not slam that screen door!
Mother (Voiceover): Love everyone.
Every ray of light.
Mr. O’Brien (To Jack):
You act like you’re in trouble. You don’t wanna fight. Nah. You don’t want any trouble. The minute you see him blink, crack him, okay?
Okay. Okay? Come on. Three-quarters. Cover. You’re going to cover, right? Okay. Hit it. Come on.
Nice. Nice. Harder. Nice. That’s a good right. Let’s see your left.
That’s the most important thing, okay? You come in this way?
You come in this way. You keep the guard up. Hit me! Come on, hit me.
Come on! Come on, Jack! Hit me. Hit me. Hit me. Come on. Come on.
Here. Here it is. Here it is. Hit it. Come on, Son! Come on! Son.
Left. What are you doing?
Dust yourself off.
Mr. O’Brien (To R.L.): Left. Don’t leave your tongue out. You’re gonna lose it.
Left. Left. Right. Right.
Left. Harder. Harder. Harder! Come on, hit me. Hit me.
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Mother: Mr. Reese liked Jack’s book report —
Father: What is that, sweetheart?
Mother: –and wanted him to make a model.
Father (Dramatic orchestra music): You know this? Brahms.
Father: Reach me my lighter.
Haven’t you forgotten somethin’?
Do you love your father?
Jack: Yes, sir.