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Editor Billy Weber Says Terrence Malick Working On DVD Director’s Cut Of ‘Tree Of Life’; ‘Voyage Of Time’ Coming In 2014

Editor Billy Weber Says Terrence Malick Working On DVD Director's Cut Of 'Tree Of Life'; 'Voyage Of Time' Coming In 2014

While Terrence Malick has become somewhat known for cutting people out of his movies (just yesterday we learned Michael Shannon was on the chopping block for “To The Wonder,” and we have a whole feature devoted to actors who got snipped), in one case he’s going back and putting footage back into a movie. You might remember that two years ago, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki revealed that Malick went back to the 300 plus miles of footage he shot for “The Tree Of Life” with plans for a six hour version of the movie. While the running time is yet to be determined, and we haven’t really heard anything about it since, it does seem that Malick is preparing a longer cut of the movie.

We recently caught up with the director’s longtime editor Billy Weber at the TCM Classic Film Festival, and he shared that Malick is indeed tinkering with “The Tree Of Life,” and putting material back into the movie. “I don’t even know the total [amount of footage that was shot], it was a huge amount of film, because he shot so many scenes. And I’m pretty sure he’s doing a director’s cut DVD of ‘Tree Of Life,’ and that will have some of those scenes deleted [placed back] in,” Weber said. “But for the theatrical release, he really thought that it was going to be too much, and he just couldn’t put it all in.”

Of course, just what exactly will be put back is anybody’s guess. Lubezki had previously stated (apologies for the Google translate), “The longer version will [likely], for the most part, relate to the children part. There were outstanding things, we’ve shot many, many things about Jack’s childhood : his friends, his evolution, his changes, his awareness of the loss of his childhood…” Nor, is there any word if Fox Searchlight will release the new cut, or if someone like The Criterion Collection will take it on. But if the new version expands on family, what about all the cosmos/dinosaurs/world of wonder stuff? 

Well, we reckon that’s all going to be in “Voyage Of Time,” the documentary Malick has been developing and working on for years. Again, this one has been flying pretty far under the radar, and last fall, producer Sarah Green cautioned,  “There are large parts shot already but it’s a multi-year project so there’s a way to go yet.” But could it be coming next year, with a distribution deal already locked into place? 

” ‘Voyage Of Time’ is supposed to come out, I think, 2014. It’s all planned, it’s got a release, it has a distributor — it’s IMAX, it’s a big IMAX film — I think it has a date and all of that,” Weber stated. While details on the documentary have bene vague — it’s said to be massive in scope, exploring “the first signs of life, bacteria, cellular pioneers, first love, consciousness, the ascent of humanity, life and death and the end of the universe” — Emma Thompson and Brad Pitt have been previously reported to be among the narrators. 

So all said and done — keep your eyes peeled and ears open, because Malick has a few surprises up his sleeves it seems. We’ll have more from our interview with Weber later this week. “To The Wonder” is in theaters and on VOD now. —interview by Diana Drumm

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A few months ago a friend of mine told me that there is a filmmaker in Barcelona who is editing a fan edit of "Tree of Life". He said it is just a private thing. No plans to be published or distributed of course. Just for the (private) pleasure of see if he can improve the movie. It seems he wants to concentrate on the childhood section only and avoid all the Sean Penn scenes plus "new age" stuff. Interesting approach.


No. Just no. Tree of Life was really let down by the childhood scenes that dragged on endlessly and aimlessly. If any element of the film needed expanding, the childhood section isn't it.

If any Malick movie needs the Director's Cut treatment it's Thin Red Line. I've been craving the 6hr cut of that ever since I first saw it.


To tell the truth, even though The Tree of Life is one of my all-time favorite films, I'm kind of scared about this. I wouldn't mind a little more footage, but putting hours more in would kind of destroy the elegant structure of the whole thing. The New World extended cut added about 30 minutes and it felt like a whole new movie–but I still preferred the theatrical cut. Presumably The Tree of Life won't be six hours long, but even just another hour of footage seems unnecessary and likely to bog things down, and perhaps spell things out that were better left allusive/illusive and mysterious. . . . . . . Plus, I don't know what to think about Voyage of Time–is it supposed to be scientifically accurate, or some sort of poetic rumination on evolution or what? And if it defines Malick's actual religious/philosophical views, will we be happier knowing them spelled out or would we rather be left with the films which allow for alternate readings?


I hope we'll have some news about the "Lawless" project and Knight of Cups during the Cannes film market in 2 weeks. I'm sure they also know when those 2 movies will be ready…

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