When Terrence Malick returned from a twenty-year break from making movies with “The Thin Red Line” in 1998, it seemed he had a lot more to say. While his first two films, “Badlands” and “Days Of Heaven,” ran a sleek 90-odd minutes each, his three films afterward required a bit more time to take in. “The Thin Red Line” came in at 170 minutes, with “The New World” landing in theaters at 135 minutes and later on Blu-ray in an extended cut running 172 minutes. Finally, last year’s “The Tree Of Life” ran 139 minutes (though Malick is apparently working on a 6 hour version). So, we figured his next effort would be an equally butt-numbing affair…but it seems that won’t be the case.
According to the Venice Film Festival site, “To The Wonder” will run 112 minutes, marking the first time Malick has stayed under two hours since his first two features. Of course, this has zero bearing on the quality of the film, but it is interesting to note, particularly to those who feel the director has become indulgent in the second wave of his career. However, as with all things Malick, the runtime is subject to change. In fact, the first cut of “The New World” that screened for press ran 150 minutes before being trimmed down for the theatrical release, and frankly, Malick could choose to continue tinkering with “To The Wonder” if he felt like it. The movie is still seeking a U.S. distributor, and despite footage screening for buyers, no rush has been made to sign contracts, and if he still feels like he wants to tweak it, he can.
And while talking about the running time for Malick’s film seems uber-nerdy, given the secrecy around his movies, it’s all we have to go on. Of course, we know that the story centers on a man (Ben Affleck) who goes to Paris, meets a European woman (Olga Kurylenko), returns home to Oklahoma and marries her, only for the relationship to fall apart. But, he winds up rekindling a romance with a hometown girl (Rachel McAdams) with whom he’s had a long history. However, what some folks have forgotten is that over a year ago, it was said that “To The Wonder” would be even more “experimental” than “The Tree Of Life.” Of course, that’s pretty vague, but with movie spending over a year in post-production (reshoots and additional photography wrapped in the spring of 2011) who knows if he’s CGI-ed in some dinosaurs and set the whole thing to a Bartok score.
We’ll find out in a few weeks when the Venice Film Festival kicks off on August 29th.