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AICN Exclusive: You Now Have 2001 More Reasons To Be Excited For Malick's THE TREE OF LIFE!

Beaks here...

Ever since running that TREE OF LIFE story last night (most of which was essentially purloined from Jeffrey Wells's Hollywood Elsewhere), I've been receiving emails from people who've "heard things" about what Terrence Malick is up to in Austin, Texas. I'm still trying to clarify/verify some of these tips, but the scoop that hit my inbox a few minutes ago is so big, it deserves its own story.

Visual f/x legend Douglas Trumbull is working on THE TREE OF LIFE.

In what capacity? Is he assisting Mike Fink on the dinosaur footage? I don't know just yet. But he has been seen knocking around Austin with Malick's crew, and I can confirm that he has been shooting footage of some sort fairly recently. Personally, I hope he's involved with the NASA-shot sequences that will allegedly be included in the IMAX movie. And when I say "IMAX movie", I mean a whole second movie. That's right, we'll be getting two new Malick movies in the next year or so: the first is THE TREE OF LIFE (which one source tells me is "massive"); the other will be an "IMAX-only" feature depicting the birth and death of the universe. It's important to note that these films are not narratively connected; to the best of my knowledge, they're thematically complementary pieces. Hopefully, I'll be able to elaborate on this by the end of the week (though I'd kinda like to stay a little vague on the details if only to preserve the air of mystery that's surrounding this production). But Douglas Trumbull, the visual f/x pioneer who collaborated with Stanley Kubrick on 2001 and Steven Spielberg on CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, will be receiving his first feature credit since Ridley Scott's BLADE RUNNER directing BRAINSTORM. On a Terrence Malick film. It doesn't get any cooler than that, folks! Thanks to "Heywood Floyd" and "John Galt" for getting in touch.

Readers Talkback
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  • March 2, 2009, 7:33 p.m. CST

    Still a little dubious they'll both pan out

    by seppukudkurosawa

    But I've been hurt so many times before by the people I love.

  • March 2, 2009, 7:44 p.m. CST

    by MikeTheSpike

    "an "IMAX-only" feature depicting the birth and death of the universe." Sold. Is this not the movie we've all wished "they" would make? I have spent many a time sitting on the crapper, dreaming of such a film.

  • March 2, 2009, 7:44 p.m. CST

    Wait a sec...

    by maliswan

    Malick was working on a project after "Days of Heaven" that dealt, supposedly, with the origins of life - with Terry filming all over the world (under the ice sheets on Antarctica, for example). It didn't materialize, I believe for budget concerns, but he had spent some time on this; when it fell apart, he went to Paris to teach, or something. Is this the same project? Can we please get a WITNESS??!!

  • March 2, 2009, 7:45 p.m. CST

    There is an IMAX dinosaur 3-D feature being released in April

    by Bass Ackwards

    It's one of those educational IMAX movies, so visually it'll probably be about in par with Discovery's Walking With Dinosaurs, but I thought it worth a mention.

  • March 2, 2009, 7:51 p.m. CST

    this is COOL news

    by T 1000 xp professional

    the definition of a cinematic experience. I cannot wait for this.

  • March 2, 2009, 7:52 p.m. CST


    by Mullah Omar

    But considering he has been AWOL since BLADE RUNNER, it was a seemingly safe bet.

  • March 2, 2009, 7:55 p.m. CST

    So Malick's in Austin, Harry's in Austin...

    by TheRevengeofLeeVanCleef

    but Harry doesn't have the scoop on this thing even though it's in his fucking backyard? <p> What a joke.

  • March 2, 2009, 8 p.m. CST

    "feature depicting the birth and death of the universe"

    by Amy Chasing

    so not another IMAX documentary then

  • March 2, 2009, 8:08 p.m. CST

    Terence Malik world class head tripper.

    by hallmitchell

    Avatar is still the movie of the year for me. Yet I'm really liking what I'm hearing.

  • March 2, 2009, 8:11 p.m. CST

    Word - sounds epic!

    by noncents

    Epic I say, damn you. Epic.

  • March 2, 2009, 8:14 p.m. CST

    I would like to see some of the...

    by The Eskimo

    ...Stephen Baxter Origins books come to life like this. Wishful thinking.

  • March 2, 2009, 8:17 p.m. CST


    by captainalphabet


  • March 2, 2009, 8:23 p.m. CST

    Most anticipate films of 2009

    by BrightEyes

    Malick is the greatest living filmmaker today.

  • March 2, 2009, 8:24 p.m. CST

    Terence Malik?

    by crashcow

    Yeah...He's that guy that makes movies so boring it knocks me the fuck out when I can't sleep. Mark my words...if anyone can make dinosaurs seem REALLY uninteresting, it's this guy. Hooray, self-importance!

  • March 2, 2009, 8:29 p.m. CST

    when you have a name

    by robamenta

    as cool sounding as 'terrence malick' u get a free pass

  • March 2, 2009, 8:29 p.m. CST

    I mean, c'mon...

    by crashcow

    Thanks to him, the only people on Earth who think the Battle of Guadalcanal didn't involve hours of wind blowing weeds and deep conversation are the G.I.s who were there getting shot at! Go Go Gadget Pretention!

  • March 2, 2009, 8:34 p.m. CST


    by Henry Fool

    <center>Terrence Malick</ center><br /> <center>proudly presents</ center><br /> <center>BORING!!!</ center><br /> <center>The Motion Picture</ center><br /> <br /> Seriously, I mean "Days of Heaven" was fine and all. But this guy's movies are just way overrated. I appreciate the artistry of his movies and find them worth watching but THEIR PACING! PLEASE! I can still feel the wrath of my best friend when I made him watch "The Thin Red Line". I didn't think it was half bad. But it bored the hell out of my friends, who were angry with me for making them go.<br /> <br /> I just don't think Terry Malick understands story structure very well. People over-romanticize the years he spent away from Hollywood and his whole comeback. They treat him like he's a Kubrick level talent and HE ISN'T. His films crawl by at a snail pace. Sometimes, I seriously think there are people who revere boring movies just so they can thumb their nose at those who don't appreciate "high art." I dunno. Terry Malick just makes me yawn. Excessive voice over narration is for film school students and he just swims in the stuff.<br /> <br /> Still, part of me wishes he'd make a studio film about cute talking animals on an adventure. I'd just like to see what his take on the genre would be. I'd love to see long shots of a golden retriever running over green fields while the beast's internal monologue narrates his inner journey in a Zen like fashion. I know Terry Malikc's gonna make the ultimate talking animal movie someday. Just you wait. I know. I'm shallow. Only ninety more minutes until twenty-four comes on. I hope Jack Bauer threatens someone with a pen again, like in the season opener.

  • March 2, 2009, 8:38 p.m. CST

    Wow! Now that really is cool news.

    by C Legion

    Welcome back Mr. Trumbull. A true master of his art returns.<p>I really hope he's deeply involved in the special effects, so he can show the sloppy, unimaginative bods who work in that field how things should be done (I'm not ripping all those other guys, just 99.9% of them).

  • March 2, 2009, 8:39 p.m. CST

    Heywood Floyd - YOU BASTARD!

    by Light_Tweaker

    Why aren't we being told the truth? How long will this cover story have to be maintained?

  • March 2, 2009, 9:28 p.m. CST

    Star Trek Voyager's One Really Smart Idea

    by zinc_chameleon

    occurred in the second season, when evolved hadrosaurs, originally denizens of Earth, caught up with humans, and at first couldn't believe they were intelligent (not having a sufficiently evolved brain), so they thought they were a food animal or something. Then Janeway proved to the hadrosaurs that they originally came from Earth 20 million year earlier, which unfortunately was religious blasphemy. Creating a dinosaur that survived the comet, evolved, and left Earth behind isn't that bad an idea.

  • March 2, 2009, 9:29 p.m. CST

    Trumbull's been active post-"Blade Runner"

    by beamish13

    he DID direct 1983's "Brainstorm", after all, as well as some innovative shorts like Universal Studios' woefully out of commission "Back to the Future: The Ride", which has a very cool T-Rex appearance.

  • March 2, 2009, 9:31 p.m. CST

    I fell asleep on all Malick's movies

    by DarthBakpao

  • March 2, 2009, 9:40 p.m. CST

    Dr. Floyd - Let's play a game called 'the truth'

    by Flim_

    I will tell the truth for one minute, then you do the same. This is wery bad for my asthma!

  • March 2, 2009, 9:40 p.m. CST

    Yay, a new sedative to repace New World and Thin Red Line!

    by Flip63Hole

    Never can have enough sleeping aids...

  • March 2, 2009, 9:40 p.m. CST


    by mrbeaks

    I was focusing on his visual f/x supervisor credits, but you're right. And I was fascinated by BRAINSTORM when I was a kid.

  • March 2, 2009, 9:45 p.m. CST

    An ad about a 12 inch Lando?

    by crashcow

    I guess he really WAS an "old smoothie." Good for him!

  • March 2, 2009, 10:11 p.m. CST

    The world has pacing problems

    by seppukudkurosawa

    Not Terrence Malick.

  • March 2, 2009, 10:17 p.m. CST

    Well Put, seppukudkurosawa

    by mrbeaks

  • March 2, 2009, 10:53 p.m. CST


    by jimmy_009

    This sounds fucking cool. I'm actually really excited about this.

  • March 2, 2009, 11:01 p.m. CST

    Malick is a remarkable visionary.

    by LoneGun

    And a kind of revolutionary in an industry of fast-paced thrill rides. One of the most important filmmakers alive. Great scoop! Count me intrigued by Trumbull's involvement in this.

  • March 2, 2009, 11:24 p.m. CST

    they'd better show the Earth growing

    by BendersShinyAss

    youtube & google expanding earth

  • March 2, 2009, 11:33 p.m. CST

    Never Fails

    by Rebeck2

    On every Malick story there's a talkback full of idiots who have to tell us how boring Malick is because their little pea brains are too rotted out by commercial pablum and they have the attention span of hummingbirds and just do not like anything that challenges them in any way. Oh, and they want us to know it - cuz they're proud of their ignorance. Okay, we heard you. Now rush off to that Adam Sandler movie and let those of us who appreciate the genius of Malick have a little "adult time". Okay?

  • March 3, 2009, 12:02 a.m. CST

    After AVATAR, Terry's films will be eyeball-fucking

    by BadWaldosRevenge

    ...especially IMAX film. What? Douglas Trumbull working on a Malick film? This can't be. Douglas worked with Kubrick, long neglected at the Oscars except for a puny award for Best Special Effects for 2001, and now Malick, the philosopher-sage-filmmaker. Days of Heaven is one of the best films made, albeit mercifully short in editing and sparse storytelling relying on visual-aural aesthetics. I thought Malick would disappear again after Thin Red Line and his fight with the producers, but he kept coming back. What the hell happened to rumored Catcher in the Rye adaptation leaked on AICN circa 2002? Did J.D. Salinger simply say "no thanks, fook off!"

  • March 3, 2009, 12:26 a.m. CST

    I hope they get finished....

    by TheWaqman

    please don't scrap this! Malick I need some more projects from you and this sounds positively excellent.

  • March 3, 2009, 12:27 a.m. CST

    You fucking ADD retards....

    by TheWaqman

    go watch Transformers. No wonder this site is anticipating the summer season so much this year. It's full of mind-numbing dumb shit from the three stooges. McG, Stephen Sommers and Michael Bay. Malick's too good for you guys.

  • March 3, 2009, 12:35 a.m. CST

    Harry, Austin, Malick


    Folks - You guys have NO IDEA how elusive MALICK is. I've been told that we have been in the same theater about 40 times in my life - and I've still never seen him. I KNOW WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE - and I still can't see him. He's the fucking Invisible Man. He allegedly lives and works in Austin. Frequents many of the same places I do, and still... HE DOES NOT EXIST!

  • March 3, 2009, 12:58 a.m. CST


    by TheMarineBiologist

    Sorry... couldn't resist...

  • March 3, 2009, 1:10 a.m. CST


    by TheMarineBiologist

    He's a ninja.

  • March 3, 2009, 1:30 a.m. CST


    by JohnGaltShrugged

    exactly :)

  • March 3, 2009, 2:50 a.m. CST

    OH MY GOD!

    by Evangelion217

    This is fucking huge! This will be Malick's biggest film to date, and it has the potential to be another Malick masterpiece. His last two outings are one of the few films that I have given a 10/10. They are unquestionably beautiful, and they completely transcend cinema. I can't wait for "The Tree Of Life!" And now Malick seems to be doing another film, that will be tackling a subject as big as "2001??" He's even used the same guy who worked with Stanley Kubrick?? THIS IS AWESOME! :)

  • March 3, 2009, 3:05 a.m. CST

    Well said TheWaqman

    by Evangelion217

    I find it amazing how so many ignorant ADD children on this site, are willing to express their ignorance. OH MY GOD, TERRENCE MALICK IS SO BORING, BECAUSE I'M STUPID AND CAN'T SIT STILL! ;)

  • March 3, 2009, 3:13 a.m. CST

    Still hoping for Terrence Malick's SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS

    by DerLanghaarige

  • March 3, 2009, 3:44 a.m. CST

    As Benjamin Button has proved......

    by D o o d

    No amount of visual effects can make a film watchable. Trumball is a legend and I'm sure he'll do amazing work, but Malick is a boring director and his films only enduce sleep.

  • March 3, 2009, 4:09 a.m. CST

    Holy bags of shit!!! Now that is some damn cool news!!!

    by a goonie

    As I said earlier in the other thread regarding Malick and dinosaurs, I love dinosaurs like a crazy motherfucker. And I love Malick something fierce, too. But this news is the very definition of cool.<br><br>2001: A Space Odyssey is my favourite movie ever. It is the most magical piece of cinema I have ever seen. And Trumbull's effects are among the most awe-inspiring achievements in movie history, if you ask me. This is truly amazing.

  • March 3, 2009, 4:41 a.m. CST

    Malick's pacing is perfect.

    by Knuckleduster

    The New World covered an incredible amount of story in a very short time. What could easily have been a six-part mini-series was told in two and a half hours. As far as I'm concerned he's a master of pacing and structure. The editing in his films are phenomenal. <p> As for the narration, Malick is one of the few filmmakers who actually enhances his work with the use of voice-over (that's right, kids. Voice-over narration isn't necessarily a bad thing, no matter what Robert McKee tells you. Can you imagine Sunset Boulevard, Little Children or The Shawshank Redemption without the voice-over?). <p> P.S. I freakin love Douglas Trumbull. Silent Running is awesome.

  • March 3, 2009, 4:55 a.m. CST


    by sidonie

    To boast that you fall asleep in a Malick film just aint cool. What are you doing here? I wish I was in Austin. Malick being there makes it twice as cool.

  • March 3, 2009, 5:16 a.m. CST

    All hale Douglas Trumbull

    by DC Films

    This is something to really get excited about.

  • March 3, 2009, 5:28 a.m. CST

    Um, this is more and more cooler.

    by WhinyNegativeBitch

    Anyway, a trippy effects laden imax piece about the evolution of the universe and SOMETHING with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. I'm excited and I really don't know why.

  • March 3, 2009, 5:45 a.m. CST

    Malick and Dinosaurs, ummmm???

    by kendobbie73

  • March 3, 2009, 5:54 a.m. CST

    Malick and Trumball, fuck me, now that's cool news

    by zapano

    and anyone who says Malick is overrated and boring needs their head examined or maybe just put out to pasture

  • March 3, 2009, 7:51 a.m. CST

    I wouldn't call Malick boring...

    by Blue_Demon

    just deliberately paced. I can see why a lot of the younger crowd would go nuts at his films though. I also went with some friends to see "The Thin Red Line" and they wanted to kill me afterwards. One of them said, "If I wanted to stare at a coffee table book for three hours I could hav done that at home."<p>He seems to have a 1970s style of thinking (this is a compliment, for me, that was one of the best decades for movies) where he lets his movies unfold instead of throwing stuff at us. I recently re-watched "The Excorcist" and thought, "I love how this movie takes its time." Can you imagine showing that screenplay to a Hollywood exec today?<p>"The fuck? When does this get moving?"<p>Every now and then, I just like to immerse myself in a movie. I saw the four hour cut of "La Belle Noiseuse" at the Dobie in Austin. Great film. (Course the fact that Emmanuelle Beart spends 3 of those hours naked helped...)

  • March 3, 2009, 8:31 a.m. CST

    Ahhh, the Malick talkback cliches strike again......

    by gooseud

    as half the talkbackers complain that Malick's movies are like watching a very passionate lovemaking session between two 83 year old nursng home residents, and the other half pull out the old tried and true "You just dont understand!! He's a GENIUS!! GENIUS, I tell you!!! Luckily I do understand, because I'm AWESOME!!!" card. This is like the sun rising in the east in its predictability. For the record, disliking Malick doesnt make you a Bay enthusiast, or a devotee or the canon of Uwe Boll. It just means you dont like the man's glacial pacing. This isnt exactly a controversial opinion. I mean, even the most devoted Malick fan cant step outside themselves to say "While I love this, I could see how certain perfectly intelligent people might find it slow"? Really?

  • March 3, 2009, 10:34 a.m. CST

    no squid?

    by jabbayoda


  • March 3, 2009, 11:42 a.m. CST

    The way Malick works?

    by ufoclub1977

    It would seem he keeps filming and filming and filming... and then a creative edit is made from the footage... and then he keeps filming and filming and filming... seems like he films entire scenes with 100's of extras as practice runs... for re-filming with 100's of extras a week later... Sort of like the greatest search for happy accidents?

  • March 3, 2009, 12:42 p.m. CST


    by the_patriot

    While I'm not a big fan of Malick (I'm not here to debate that), I do appreciate how he can bring together one hell of a cast and crew to pull off his visions. But damn, if Trumbull is involved...I'm gonna have to search this one out. My *real* question is if this is hiding down in Austin - where several members of this site *live* - how is info just NOW getting out about this project here? Not being snipy, just an honest question. Has it been *THAT* secretive that nobody notices a film crew in town and asks questions before someone makes an offhand comment in an article?

  • March 3, 2009, 2:17 p.m. CST

    The New World was torture to sit through

    by BigTuna

    This ass-kissing of Malick is funny. Just because he makes "Artsy" films, doesn't make them good. There's only so many pretty treees and waterfalls I can watch before it gets old.

  • March 3, 2009, 5:21 p.m. CST


    by D o o d

    You're absolutely right. I also found it nigh on impossible to sit through that turd of a movie called "Brave New World". There is this strange snobbery that people have with Malick but I've said it once and I'll say it again, he makes boring movies and they don't look all that great or unusual either.

  • March 3, 2009, 6:08 p.m. CST

    I'm telling you as a fan of his

    by seppukudkurosawa

    There's no snobbery or affrontery or pretentiousness involved. His movies just appeal to me. When I sit watching them, I don't mutter to myself: "Heh heh, I can't wait to make all those idiots feel bad about themselves for not being in on the joke." There is no joke.<p> You're the ones projecting your taste. You're the ones assuming that what works and doesn't work for for you is the same for everyone else. Malick's movies leve me reeling afterwards. I like simple, slow-paced movies (as well as blockbuster fare, otherwise I wouldn't be here) as to me, they're the heroin of moviemaking: the most direct way of transferring emotion and inspiration and character and ideas from the filmmaker to the viewer. Simple stories beautifully told. If that ain't your cup of celluloid, that's OK. But I can tell you, as a fan, that you're the last thing on my mind when I watch a Malick movie.

  • March 3, 2009, 6:09 p.m. CST


    by seppukudkurosawa

    Erm, my "a" key's kinda sticky for some reason...

  • March 3, 2009, 7:27 p.m. CST

    Bay/TF any day over this Captain of Snore

    by Logan_1973

    THIN RED LINE hands-down worst movie I've ever seen. I dig good drama and philosophical musings on film, but that POS was just unforgivable.

  • March 3, 2009, 11:10 p.m. CST

    Silent Running kicks ass!

    by Proman1984

    Douglas Trumbull is awesome!

  • March 3, 2009, 11:52 p.m. CST

    Well put, seepukudkurosawa

    by Projectedlight

    I love it when people accuse you of being a snob for liking Malick or anybody else and then suggest that you only pretend to like it to make them feel bad (since his work is too artsy and boring for anyone else to have enjoyed) or because you're an elitist prick. Nice hypocritical argument, you morons. That line of thinking is called 'reverse-snobbery'.

  • March 4, 2009, 12:48 a.m. CST

    I think if Thoreau were alive

    by edgardevice

  • March 4, 2009, 12:49 a.m. CST


    by edgardevice

    he'd have an uzi and kill all who hate on The Malick!

  • March 4, 2009, 2:15 a.m. CST

    Nice one, seppukudkurosawa.

    by Knuckleduster

    I think you just hit the nail on the head there. Folks, if it's not your cup of tea, kindly just say so and move on.

  • March 4, 2009, 7:31 a.m. CST

    There's nothing wrong with.....

    by D o o d

    slow and arty movies. I watch them and if they're good I like them. This has got nothing to do with that. There is definitely some sort of snobbery involved. Malick is NOT that great a director and a few of his projects have proved that, especially The New World. I mean I sat through that 2.5 - 3 hours of just pure trash. At no point did I look at that and see any visionary or beautiful photography. There's a reason why he doesn't make that many movies, he's just not that good.

  • March 4, 2009, 7:47 p.m. CST

    I thought Pitt was gonna be in a Malick-directed sci-fi ODYSSEY.

    by CountryBoy

    Is that this? Is this at all based on THE ODYSSEY?

  • March 5, 2009, 1:02 a.m. CST

    D o o d

    by Projectedlight

    Look, I respect your right to dislike Malick. But... " This has got nothing to do with that. There is definitely some sort of snobbery involved." ...shut the fuck up. Your opinion is not the only opinion. I like Malick and it's not because of any snobbery, stop projecting your own point of view and telling me I can't like something because you don't. As for there being no visionary of beautiful photography, feel free to disagree, but in my book all of this... is astonishingly beautiful, in a very natural way. The images feel like they sprung straight from nature. Malick's images are their context are perfect, but they always feel completely natural.

  • Feb. 11, 2010, 11:45 p.m. CST


    by orcus