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Terrence Malick (born 30 November 1943) is an American filmmaker, screenwriter and producer. In a career spanning decades, Malick has directed one short film and four feature-length films.

Numerous critics consider Malick's films to be masterpieces, in particular Badlands and Days of Heaven. Malick was nominated for an Academy Award for both Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director for The Thin Red Line. His work is often characterized by naturalist cinematography and a meditative directorial and editing style; his films are full of rich, lingering, repetitive images of natural beauty. He makes extensive use of off-screen narration by his characters, as well as music, to illuminate, heighten and counterpoint the action on screen.

Although not otherwise in public life, friends such as actor Martin Sheen have always remarked that he is a very warm and humble man who prefers to work without media intrusion. His contracts stipulate that no current photographs of him are to be taken, and he routinely declines requests for interviews. His only known public appearance was in October 2007 for a conversation with film historians Antonio Monda and Mario Sesti as part of the Rome Film Festival.

Early life

Sources state Malick's place of birth as either Ottawa, Illinoismarker or Waco, Texasmarker. His father was an oil company executive of Assyrian descent, and Malick grew up in Oklahomamarker and Texasmarker, working on oil fields as a young man. He moved to Austin, Texas and graduated from St. Stephen's Episcopal Schoolmarker. Malick studied philosophy under Stanley Cavell at Harvard Universitymarker, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1965, and went on to Magdalen College, Oxfordmarker as a Rhodes Scholar. He had a disagreement with his advisor, Gilbert Ryle, over his thesis on the concept of the world in Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein, and ultimately left Oxford without taking a doctorate. In 1969, Northwestern University Press published Malick's translation of Heidegger's Vom Wesen des Grundes as The Essence of Reasons. Moving back to the United Statesmarker, he taught philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker while freelancing as a journalist, writing articles for Newsweek, The New Yorker, and Life.

Film career

Malick got his start in film after earning an MFA from the AFI Conservatory in 1969, directing Lanton Mills. It was at the AFI that he established contacts with people such as Jack Nicholson and agent Mike Medavoy, who found freelance script-doctoring work for him.

After working as a screenwriter and script doctor, Malick directed Badlands and Days of Heaven. Following the release of Days of Heaven, Malick moved to Francemarker and disappeared from public view for twenty years. He returned to film in 1998 with The Thin Red Line. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, but did not win any of them.

For his fourth feature, Malick considered directing a biopic about Che Guevara and his failed revolution in Boliviamarker, and wrote a screenplay for it, but later relinquished the project to director Steven Soderbergh. He chose to make The New World instead, the script of which he finished in the late 1970s. The film features a romantic interpretation of the story of John Smith and Pocahontas, filmed in his customary transcendental style. The film received a limited release on December 25, 2005 and a general release in mid-January 2006. It was nominated for an Academy Award and received largely mixed reviews during its theatrical run. Over one million feet of film was shot during the isolated filming schedule, resulting in a final film which ran for 150 minutes before Malick decided to temporarily withdraw the film from release and re-edit it into a 135-minute version. On October 14, 2008, a 172 minute version of The New World was released on DVD.

Malick is currently editing his fifth feature, The Tree of Life, which was filmed in Smithville, Texasmarker and elsewhere during 2008. The film originally began life as Q, which Malick had planned as his follow-up to Days of Heaven before embarking on a 20 year hiatus from filmmaking.

Malick is also credited with the screenplay for Pocket Money (1972), and he wrote early drafts of Great Balls of Fire! (1989) and Dirty Harry (1971).

Malick has written an original screenplay for The Thin Red Line producers Robert Michael Geisler and John Roberdeau entitled The English-Speaker, and has also been linked to a screen adaptation of Walker Percy's The Moviegoer. Rumors were reported in May 2006 linking Malick to a possible adaptation of J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, but neither of these projects have come to fruition. Malick is believed to be working on an adaptation of the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which is rumored to star The Thin Red Line's Jim Caviezel.

Personal life

Malick married Michele Morette in 1985; they divorced in 1998. Michele Morette died in July 2008 from pancreatic cancer in Paris, France. Malick has been married to Alexandra "Ecky" Wallace since 1998, and currently resides in Austin, Texasmarker.



  • Peter Biskind, 1998. Easy Riders / Raging Bulls, London: Bloomsbury.
  • Peter Biskind, 1998. ‘The Runaway Genius’, Vanity Fair, 460, Dec, 116-125.
  • Stanley Cavell, 1979. The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film, Enlarged Edition, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Michel Chion, 1999. The Voice in Cinema, translated by Claudia Gorbman, New York & Chichester: Columbia University Press.
  • Michel Ciment, 1975. ‘Entretien avec Terrence Malick’, Positif, 170, Jun, 30-34.
  • G. Richardson Cook, 1974. ‘The Filming of Badlands: An Interview with Terry Malick’, Filmmakers Newsletter, 7:8, Jun, 30-32.
  • Charlotte Crofts, 2001, ‘From the “Hegemony of the Eye” to the “Hierarchy of Perception”: The Reconfiguration of Sound and Image in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven’, Journal of Media Practice, 2:1, 19-29.
  • Terry Curtis Fox, 1978. ‘The Last Ray of Light’, Film Comment, 14:5, Sept/Oct, 27- 28.
  • Cameron Docherty, 1998. ‘Maverick Back from the Badlands’, The Sunday Times, Culture, 7 Jun, 4.
  • Martin Donougho, 1985. ‘West of Eden: Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven’, Postscript: Essays in Film and the Humanities, 5:1, Fall, 17-30.
  • Roger Ebert, Review of Days of Heaven, Chicago Sun-Times Inc
  • Graham Fuller, 1998. ‘Exile on Main Street’, The Observer, 13 Dec, 5.
  • John Hartl, 1998. ‘Badlands Director Ending his Long Absence’, Seattle Times, 8 Mar.
  • Brian Henderson, 1983. ‘Exploring Badlands’. Wide Angle: A Quarterly Journal of Film Theory, Criticism and Practice, 5:4, 38-51.
  • Les Keyser, 1981. Hollywood in the Seventies, London: Tantivy Press.
  • Terrence Malick, 1973. Interview the morning after Badlands premiered at the New York Film Festival, American Film Institute Report, 4:4, Winter, 48.
  • Terrence Malick, 1976. Days of Heaven, Registered with the Writers Guild of America, 14 Apr; revised 2 Jun.
  • James Monaco, 1972. ‘Badlands’, Take One, 4:1, Sept/Oct, 32.
  • Kim Newman, 1994. ‘Whatever Happened to Whatsisname?’, Empire, Feb, 88-89.
  • Brooks Riley, 1978. ‘Interview with Nestor Almendros’, Film Comment, 14:5, Sept/Oct, 28-31.
  • J. P. Telotte, 1986. ‘Badlands and the Souvenir Drive’, Western Humanities Review, 40:2, Summer, 101-14.
  • Beverly Walker, 1975. ‘Malick on Badlands’, Sight and Sound, 44:2, Spring, 82-3.
  • Janet Wondra, 1994. ‘A Gaze Unbecoming: Schooling the Child for Femininity in Days of Heaven’, Wide Angle, 16:4, Oct, 5-22.


  1. :: :: Reviews :: Badlands
  2. :: :: Great Movies :: Days of Heaven
  3. Terrence Malick - Biography (IMDb)
  4. Davenport, Hayes; December 15, 2005; Alumni Watch: Terence Malick '65; The Harvard Crimson; retrieved May 3, 2007.
  5. Schermaglie: Festa di Roma - Gli amori di Terrence Malick
  10. IGN: Featured Filmmaker: Terrence Malick
  11. Ones that got away | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Books

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