So this new Tom Cruise movie, Oblivion, where he plays an ex-Marine returning to an evacuated Earth to rid the last of its alien invaders, doesn’t look like the most exciting movie that will be out all summer, though it does feature lots of people we like, including Olga Kurylenko, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo and Morgan Freeman, who are all pretty ecxcellent.
But, the soundtrack, helmed by Anthony Gonzalez’s dreamy French pop quintet M83 and Joseph Trapanese, is as vast and unsettling (in a good way) as the film’s title. The bulk of it even feels like the moving of a spacecraft of some kind across a barren, dystopian wasteland, which I guess, if that’s what you’re going for, is a good thing. One of the high points is a new spacey M83 track, which shares the film’s title and features Susanne Sundfør and her commanding voice. Listen to some selections below, via SoundCloud.
Let me begin by saying that whoever is cutting these To the Wonder trailers deserves an entire award ceremony of his/her own. And although it seems I have already spoken ad nauseum about Terrence Malick’s latest philosophical/emotional masterpiece with word of new trailers, stills, featurettes, etc., I almost forgot that a proper US theatrical trailer had yet to be released. And yesterday, Entertainment Tonight (of all places) debuted the beautiful new preview that has taken my heart and placed it on my lap so that it can absorb my endless tears. Featuring Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, and Javier Bardem, this new trailer allows us to see more stunning moments from his graceful poem of images. And in addition, perhaps the first lovely shot of a Sonic Drive-In featured in a Malick movie, right?
And this idea of "the Wonder," of the abstract beauty inherent in existence, of allowing our eye to deconstruct the way we view the world around us with a spirituality that connects emotion and creation to something beyond, is at the crux of Malick’s work and To the Wonder explores that through the memory of love’s torture. As part of our December/January cover story on Kurylenko, she spoke to us about her process of working on the feature, saying:
I receive pages every morning, sometimes ten, sometimes more. They’re not exactly a script—whether one exists or not is a complete mystery—but the words are (excuse my poeticism) rather like a breakfast for the soul. And every morning it’s a feast! If I digest the sense of what the pages contain, the nature of Terry’s words will shine through my eyes while we’re filming, and I won’t even need to speak. Every sentence is filled with such deep knowledge of the soul. They force me to think and reflect on my own life, to ask myself questions. Reading Terry’s words makes me realize I’m spending so much precious time on such unnecessary things. (“Why do we often look the wrong way?”) Wonderful pages. I’d like to cover my walls with them. Instead, I’m instructed to burn them.
But more on this closer to the film’s release, which is coming up on April 12th. So in the meantime, check out the US trailer below, as well as, yet another, clip from the film.
Between the cracks of Terrence Malick’s silences live hundreds of emotions just rising to the surface. His quiet moments, more powerful than most words could ever articulate. And when we look back on pain or love, memories flash and dissolve in one’s mind in fractions, remembering with a photographic sense, not what he said in the arguement but the way your stomach filled with fire, not the screaming but the way his teeth looked when he did so. And Malick captures that heightened beauty of memory, even in the most exhausted moments.
So with To the Wonder, which will hit American theaters May 12th, we’ve gotten a peak at everything from gorgeous stills to behind the scenes features and trailers, but now a first clip from the film has been released to keep your excitement on the rise. This clip shows Olga Kurylenko and Ben Affleck as their pair of tortured lovers forced to deal with questions of faith, intimacy, obsession, dependence, and what it means to exist with real love inside you. In this first clip, we see them at The Mont Saint-Michael, referred to as "Wonder of the West." It’s a grey scene but a more spiritual moment before love goes sour. Take a look.
In a recent review for Little White Lies, David Jenkins said that Terrence Malick "doesn’t make films anymore, he builds cathedrals.” And as a sublime and beautiful companion piece to The Tree of Life, his latest emotional epic To the Wonder tackles the same questions of existence as his last film, but this time through the eyes of love and the confounding complexities within ourselves that hold us captive and barricade us from connection to our own spirit and that of others. Yesterday, we showed you a new French TV spot for the film with a first behind-the-scenes featurette the day prior. But now, all three exclusive clips have made themselves visible online and it’s your choice to choose whether or not you’d like to dive into the making of the film.
Malick’s films are painfully stunning, captivating, and bewildering because they seem to exist so effortlessly, like you’re watching a graceful and delicate ballet never imagining that the dancers performing could possibly be sweating or having their toes ripped to shreds. So if you’ve already lucky enough to have seen To the Wonder, then perhaps you’ll find these featurettes very enlightening—it’s always interesting to hear Ben Affleck talk about the shooting process is stream metaphors. But if you’ve yet to immerse yourself in the picture, let’s save this one for later. Now if someone can find me the original behind-the-scenes footage of Days of Heaven, then we’ll be in business.
Terrence Malick’s films aren’t much different from Chris Marker’s un photo-roman. The poetic wisdom and ineffable beauty are presented in images and snapshots of moments that speak volumes above dialogue. And what remains are the feelings provoked by the way the camera slying weaves through the emotional trails of his characters with grace. And in for his latest, To the Wonder, we’ve already been given a sizable amount of images thus far, setting the tone for what audiences can expect in the story of love’s natural ebb and flow—from manic passion to the emptiness of sorrow.
The latest set of stills to arrive comes courtesy of The Telegraph, giving us a look at tortured lovers Olga Kurylenko and Ben Affleck dancing wistfully in a field at dusk, the lonesome and beautiful Rachel McAdams on a horse ranch, and Javier Bardem as the priest questioning his own spiritually. If you’re lucky enough to be in the U.K., the film opens on the 22nd of February; those of us in the U.S. will have to wait until its April 12th release.
Terrence Malick’s sprawling poem of images To the Wonder lives inside his magic hour moments of pain and splendor. Mainly, the stills we’ve seen from the film thus far have been of Ben Affleck and Olga Kuryleko—the tortured lovers whose relationship flows in and out of love and lust. But now, there’s a new batch of images for you to begin salivating over, featuring Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem.
McAdams plays a former lover of Affleck, a painfully beautiful woman yearning for love and security, whereas Bardem plays a priest whose faith wanes as he questions his own existence. Opinions on the film are sure to mixed, but there is no doubt that Malick works his magic yet again to create something that speaks to the basic human desires, emotions, and challeneges we all face when it comes to connecting with the world around us, all framed in a physical world that heightens the mundane reality of the nature surrounding our everyday lives into a magestic setting.
Check out the new stills which present, as expected, losts of wistfully gentle touching, starring, and prancing around wheatfields.
While filming Terrence Malick’s upcoming To the Wonder, Olga Kurylenko traveled from the golden wheat fields of Oklahoma to the quicksand tidal flats of Mon Saint-Michel in France. Here, the actor shares her personal thoughts about collaborating with the iconic director and what it felt like to inhabit her character, Marina.
My memories of Oklahoma, where most of To the Wonder is set, begin with Terrence. We talk and I’m puzzled as to how he already seems to know me so completely. (“Can he read my mind? Don’t think! Don’t think! Don’t think!”)
Terry talks to me about life, about what’s important, about what’s real, and about “the Wonder.” It’s often not where we look for it because our hurried lifestyles, our rushed society, and a constant stream of media distort our understanding of it. We forget that the Wonder is older than us, it was there before us, and before we had access to all the volatility and superficiality our world is now over-packed with—our dizzying options multiplying like croissants on bakers’ tables. Our minds are so busy deciding what to chase—no, we want all of it, we want everything at once—and it’s this greed that takes us on a wrong path—away from the Wonder.
Terry takes me for a ride through a small town and talks to me about who I am: Marina. A woman ruled by a combination of candor and insolence. He says that only Russians can gracefully combine both at once. Have you read Karamazov, Karenina, The Idiot? Terry wants to know. Yes, I did my homework. A Russian soul? I was born with one. A Russian soul with a French spirit. That’s what he was looking for.
The next day our director of photography, Chivo (Emmanuel Lubezki), and I are in an expansive field and he’s following me, filming me no matter what I do: I whirl, look around, smile, and laugh. I raise my arms up and the sun is shining through my spread fingers, and I always, always, and always look for the Wonder.
Terry smiles and I jump, twirl, run, and jump again. He claps, “More, more, more, like a rabbit!” But then the Wonder suddenly goes missing. I scream and run into the house—throwing things, breaking things. It rains pretzels and cereal and there are more screams, but now they’re not mine, they’re Neil’s (Ben Affleck), and I’m laughing wildly and crying—my Marina is hysterical, unstable. I collapse on the floor and I wipe my tears from his shoes and kiss them. I ask, “Why do I do this? I want to be good, so good, but sometimes I suddenly feel possessed.” And I beg forgiveness.
I receive pages every morning, sometimes ten, sometimes more. They’re not exactly a script—whether one exists or not is a complete mystery—but the words are (excuse my poeticism) rather like a breakfast for the soul. And every morning it’s a feast! If I digest the sense of what the pages contain, the nature of Terry’s words will shine through my eyes while we’re filming, and I won’t even need to speak. Every sentence is filled with such deep knowledge of the soul.
They force me to think and reflect on my own life, to ask myself questions. Reading Terry’s words makes me realize I’m spending so much precious time on such unnecessary things. (“Why do we often look the wrong way?”) Wonderful pages. I’d like to cover my walls with them. Instead, I’m instructed to burn them.
And one day our time in Oklahoma comes to an end. We travel to France now, to Mont Saint-Michel, where lovers go—and now us. The whole place is surrounded by wet sand. I dance on the sand and suddenly it begins to move under my feet. Quicksand, Terry explains. It’s always changing. To keep from sinking we have to balance on our feet, making small, quick steps, never staying still. If we stop moving we’ll be sucked in. Life is not so dissimilar.
The Wonder is everywhere. It is simply enough to open one’s eyes and truly look and listen, truly think, and not feign to do those things, as we tend to do in our busy everyday lives. And this, I believe, is why Terry’s films should be seen: They make us see past the everyday, and they are sometimes more real than our reality.
The trailer for Terrence Malick’s latest poem of images, To the Wonder, has found its way online this morning, and until a domestic preview is released, I will be watching this or hell, just listening to it on an endless loop. Premiering back in the fall on the festival circuit, Malick’s followup to the enigmatic TheTree of Life, opened to a smattering of boos and criticism—most likely audience members with residual frustration from his last. But rather than focusing on creation, To the Wonder—which stars Olga Kurylenko, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, and Javier Bardem—appears to meditate on the ineffable qualities of love and love lost.
Staying true to his cinematic style, the trailer features his signature voiceover that’s not quite narrator, not quite character but more of an omnipresent figure to the film. The Film Stage called it, "a beautiful account of love through memory," which sounds promising, knowing that Malick’s work exists inside the world of memory. When we think back on the moments that have awakened our lives or back on love, it’s never the words that we remember but a series of images or a touch with feelings attached—and that’s what his films aim to encapsulate, that magic hour of the mind, remembering the way someone’s mouth moved when they yelled or the way the wind hit the trees rather than the narrative that brought them there.
In our December/January cover story, Kurylenko spoke about working with Malick, saying, "It’s so amazing to be a part of his work. I think we had a connection, and his writing is so simple and beautiful," and that each morning on set, script pages would arrive but "never before because he doesn’t want you to rehearse too much and overthink it…they always tried to recuperate the pages, and what they didn’t get back Terry or his assistant instructed us to burn." Certainly a vivid image: the thought of the ashes of Malick’s scripts floating off somewhere in one of those wheat fields he’s so fond of.
Recent BlackBook cover girl Olga Kurylenko pops up alongside heavy-hitters Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman in next spring’s Oblivion, which I can assume is sort of like a live-action Wall-E but with more aliens and less fat-shaming. Cruise stands in for the aforementioned robot, acting as a one-man cleaning crew dispatched to an evacuated Earth following an intergalactic war. And then he finds some other people! And one of them is a strange, beautiful woman with a vague European accent who knows who he is! Will he make it out of Earth alive? Will he have to leave his tin-can plant behind? We’ll have to wait until April to find out.