Terrence Malick has been directing films for 45 years now, and yet he only has 10 features to his name. The auteur may not have the most prolific output, but he does have some of the most iconic images ever put to screen. Ahead of Malick’s latest, “Radegund,” we look back at 20 of Malick’s best shots.
Malick’s best shots often contemplate humanity’s relationship to nature, starting with this breathtaking image of Martin Sheen in the director’s 1973 feature debut.
Throughout his 1978 romantic drama, Malick englufs his characters within his Texas Panhandle setting.
The look of “Days of Heaven” was created by Malick and two master cinematographers: Néstor Almendros and Haskell Wexler. The former won the Oscar for Best Cinematography.
The most famous shot from “Days of Haven” captures the silhouettes of Richard Gere and Brooke Adams against burning crops. Malick won Best Director at Cannes for the movie.
Malick worked with cinematographer John Toll to achieve the critically acclaimed look of “The Thin Red Line.” Toll was nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar.
Malick and Toll’s achievement in the war epic is juxtaposing the emotional suffering of the soldiers with the overwhelming beauty of the South Pacific.
“The New World” is the first parternship between Emmanuel Lubezki and Terrence Malick. The cinematographer earned his third Oscar nomination for his work.
IndieWire recently named “The New World” one of the 25 most beautiful films of the 21st century. Lubezki’s camera movements give Malick’s images a distinctly ephemeral feel, while at the same time capturing strong emotional beats from the characters.
“The Tree of Life” is the defining work of both Lubezki and Malick’s careers. Lubezki won over 10 prizes from critic groups for his work on the sprawling epic and was nominated for his fifth Oscar for Best Cinematography.
“The Tree of Life” ranked #2 on IndieWire’s list of the 25 films with the best cinematography in the 21st century.
The screenplay’s fundamental confrontation between grace and nature defines the way Malick and Lubezki film each scene. The camera’s weightless movements possess a spirituality all their own.
Lubezki and Malick filmed most of “The Tree of Life” in Texas neighborhoods, including Smithville, Bastrop, and Malick’s hometown of Waco.
Malick and Lubezki relied only on natural lighting and real landscapes during the filming of the movie. Many shots depict nature as a boundless force.
The final shot of “The Tree of Life” offers a visual punchline for the way grace and nature often coexist in the world.
Lubezki and Malick filmed “To The Wonder” in Oklahoma on the Native American plains of the Osage Nation. The landscape and the camera act as neutral observers to the film’s battle between love and religion.
“To The Wonder” received less than favorable reviews following the triumph of “The Tree of Life,” but the film continued to drive home Malick’s newfound experimental style.
Malick and Lubezki create a visual dichotomy between the natural and man-made worlds in “Knight of Cups.” Nature acts as a cleansing for Christian Bale’s depressed screenwriter.
Much of the film takes place in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, with materialistic constructions and buildings drowning out Bale.
Malick examines the birth and death of the universe in his visually extraordinary documentary “Voyage of Time.” Nearly every shot has the pristine beauty of a painting.
Malick’s most recent run of films have been visually interested in man’s relationship to cityscapes and how relationships live and die in the shadow of humanity’s own technological evolution.