Even though he only directed seven features during the last forty-three years, Terrence Malick proved himself to be a visionary auteur with a distinct style that made its impact on cinema ever since “Badlands” was released in 1973. His soulful and ethereal visual approach is so instantly recognizable that it’s very easy to perceive inspired out-of-context shots inspired by other filmmakers to be Malick shots that fans might have glossed over.
In order to prove Malick’s clear influence on a long list of directors, Vimeo user Jacob T. Swinney put together a brief but effective list of “Malickian” shots from a number of films that swing wildly between genres, styles, and even budgets. The clear presence of “Man of Steel” shows that Malick’s style isn’t only for art-house indies. And yes, of course “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” is included in the video.
Almost all of the images in the montage cover a checklist of minimum requirements for the shot to count as a true Malick facsimile: Handheld or steadicam camera that focuses on nature while representing human subjects in an abstract manner, a melancholic look, a cold representation of technology, natural lighting, and of course, lens flares resulting from pointing the camera directly at the sun. You can watch this essential study on Malick, one that doesn’t use a single frame of his films, below.