If you’re not smart enough to understand why Terrence Malick’s films are so subtle and brilliant, one thing you’ve probably noticed is that he likes to film leaves and wheat stalks and grasses gently blowing in the breeze, with an approach that seems to say “Dialogue schmialogue, here’s a quiet meadow.” Ben Affleck recently starred in Malick’s To the Wonder, and the way Affleck describes Malick’s process basically confirms everything you always assumed about Terrence Malick’s process:
“The experience of it seemed half-crazy in that we didn’t really have dialogue, so I didn’t really know what was happening,” Affleck tells GQ in a new interview. “Then I realized that he was accumulating colors that he would use to paint with later in the editing room. My character doesn’t really do that much.”
Indeed, in THR‘s review of the film, Neil is called “a leading contender for biggest cypher of a leading man in modern cinema. With the barest shards of dialogue to speak, Neil holds his women tight when love is strong, approaches them with concerned sympathy when they turn unhappy and broods in corners or while driving a car once a rupture looks inevitable.”
Added Affleck, “It was kind of a wash for me in terms of learning something as an actor, because Terry uses actors in a different way—he’ll [have the camera] on you and then tilt up and go up to a tree, so you think, ‘Who’s more important in this—me or the tree?’ But you don’t ask him, because you don’t want to know the answer.” [THR]
Yup, sounds like Malick alright. I’ve heard that after sex, Terrence Malick spends 20 minutes spooning the lampshade.