James Horner hasn’t been shy about his lack of admiration for director Terrence Malick. The composer worked with the filmmaker on “The New World,” and by his account, it was an arduous process due to Malick’s constant changes, and his inability to get to the core of the film’s love story. According to Horner, the editing process was a nightmare, and the final straw was when the composer’s work was abandoned altogether (his score was later released on CD). In 2006, the composer explained in lengthy detail his thoughts, not just about working on “The New World,” but Malick in general saying, “I never felt so letdown by a filmmaker in my life.” And now in 2015, he’s again sharing about his less than ideal time on that film.
Chatting with Little White Lies, the magazine asked Horner about “The New World,” and composer again offered his honest opinion. “Terrence Malick is an enigmatic filmmaker. He’s a brilliant photographer. He’s a brilliant cinematographer. In a way, though, he doesn’t know how to coalesce a story from beginning to end,” he said. “When I first saw this movie it was an early edit. There was no reason this movie couldn’t have been as successful as ‘Titanic.’ It was cut that way. It was a story of this Native American girl meeting this guy and it was really romantic. In editing, Terry, as he does in his filmmaking, made much more of a dreamworld and he disassociated the scenes. There was no through-line any more. He lost the love story. He wasn’t interested in that. He started telling a story about images and it didn’t hold together. The movie didn’t hold together for me, or for an audience.”
“I think that Terry’s brilliant but he is an abstract painter,” Horner continued. “You have to know going in that what you initially see — which is a real story — ends up looking more like a Picasso or an abstract painting and it’s broken up and musically that doesn’t work. You can’t tell a linear story any more and he ends up cutting stuff and for an audience, emotionally, I just don’t think that holds together. Visually, it’s stunning but the storytelling — it’s a book that can’t be read.”
It’s a bracing critique of a filmmaker who is generally beloved, but it should be noted that Horner isn’t alone. Christopher Plummer, who co-starred in “The New World,” has also sounded off on Malick saying, among other things, that “he needs a writer.”
Meanwhile, Malick is busily working away on a slew of new projects. “Knights Of Cups” premiered in February at the Berlin International Film Festival, the documentary “Voyage Of Time” (coming in two versions) is brewing, and then there’s his untitled music scene movie. Back in March, word started circulating that the film was called “Weightless,” though that intel was swiftly swatted. Well, it would appear that at some point, it was a name being used by those involved in the production.
Chatting with Thompson On Hollywood, Johnny Jewel — the musician who provided songs for “Drive” and scored “Lost River” — shared his brief experience working on the Malick movie. “[Jewel’s band] Glass Candy was playing a festival, Fun Fun Fun, in Austin and Ryan [Gosling] shows up because he heard we were in town and they were shooting the Terrence Malick film that at that point didn’t have a title, but now it’s called ‘Weightless’ and the plot weaves through all these festival experiences,” Jewel said. “There’s a lot of music in the movie, and they came to the Glass Candy show and it was so — it was my fault because I wanted us to play almost in the dark. They couldn’t really film. It’s funny because the next year [Jewel’s other band] Chromatics played the same festival at dusk, so they filmed again.”
So, more evidence that the film was or is called “Weightless.” At this point, we’ll take whatever info we can get about the movie which also features Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett. It didn’t make the Cannes lineup, so perhaps Venice then?