Das Cinegold

One of my summertime must-sees is the new Terrence Malick film, The Tree of Life. Along with his instinct for gorgeously shot images, Malick shares with Stanley Kubrick a genius for using music — found music, usually classical — to create moods. The opening of The New World, set to the opening of Wagner’s Das Rheingold is a case in point:

One of the boldest choices in Malick’s 1973 debut feature, Badlands, was the use of  Carl Orff’s”Gassenhauer” to give the film a feeling out of time. Only once does his use a Fifties vintage song, and his austere approach guarantees it has plenty of impact.

In the scene where Kit and Holly burn down her house after killing her father, the beauty of the imagery is sometimes too much — you worry about losing the horror of what’s happening. But that is precisely Malick’s point: Kit and Holly live in their own world, with Holly providing a narration cobbled from romantic cliches and movie-magazine gossip.They are so divorced from the reality of their atrocities that Kit’s affable greeting every time they meet a potential victim becomes devastatingly creepy.

Judging from this trailer (and this tasty preview from Alex Ross) The Tree of Life will be a similar orgy of classical and original music. Judging from the trailer, some of the music is overly familiar but still capable of giving pleasure: it’s been ages since I listened to “The Moldau,” but the passage here reminded me of long-ago days when Smetana’s music flowed through the house. I can’t wait to experience this movie.

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