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Terrence Malick

Malick on the set of The Thin Red Line
Born Terrence Frederick Malick
November 30, 1943 (1943-11-30) (age 66)
Ottawa, Illinois, US
Other name(s) David Whitney
Occupation Film director, Screenwriter, Producer
Spouse(s) Jill Jakes
Michele Morette (1985-1998)
Alexandra Wallace (1998-present)

Terrence Malick (born 30 November 1943) is an American filmmaker, screenwriter, and producer. In a career spanning decades, Malick has directed one short film and four feature-length films.

Numerous critics consider Malick's films to be masterpieces, in particular Badlands and Days of Heaven.[1][2] Malick was nominated for an Academy Award for both Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director for The Thin Red Line.

Malick's personal life has been carefully guarded from media intrusion. An interview he gave at the Rome Film Festival in 2007 is one of the only public appearances since the beginning of his career in film. He is married and currently resides in Austin, Texas.


Early life

Sources state Malick's place of birth as either Ottawa, Illinois[3] or Waco, Texas.[4] His father was an oil company executive of Assyrian descent.[5][6] Malick grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and Texas, working on oil fields as a young man. He moved to Austin, Texas and graduated from St. Stephen's Episcopal School.

Malick studied philosophy under Stanley Cavell at Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1965. He went on to Magdalen College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. After a disagreement with his advisor, Gilbert Ryle, over his thesis on the concept of the world in Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein, Malick left Oxford without taking a doctorate. In 1969, Northwestern University Press published Malick's translation of Heidegger's Vom Wesen des Grundes as The Essence of Reasons. Moving back to the United States, Malick taught philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology while freelancing as a journalist. He wrote articles for Newsweek, The New Yorker, and Life.[citation needed]

Film career

Malick got his start in film after earning an MFA from the AFI Conservatory in 1969, directing Lanton Mills. It was at the AFI that he established contacts with people such as Jack Nicholson and agent Mike Medavoy, who found freelance script-doctoring work for him.

After working as a screenwriter and script doctor, Malick directed Badlands and Days of Heaven. Following the release of Days of Heaven, Malick moved to France and disappeared from public view for twenty years. He returned to film in 1998 with The Thin Red Line. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, but did not win any of them.

For his fourth feature was The New World, the script of which he finished in the late 1970s. The film features a romantic interpretation of the story of John Smith and Pocahontas, filmed in his customary transcendental style. The film received a limited release on December 25, 2005 and a general release in mid-January 2006. It was nominated for an Academy Award and received largely mixed reviews during its theatrical run.[citation needed] Over one million feet of film was shot during the isolated filming schedule, resulting in a final film which ran for 150 minutes before Malick decided to temporarily withdraw the film from release and re-edit it into a 135-minute version.[citation needed] On October 14, 2008, a 172 minute version of The New World was released on DVD.

Malick is currently editing his fifth feature, The Tree of Life, which was filmed in Smithville, Texas and elsewhere during 2008, and is currently awaiting a 2010 release.

Malick is also credited with the screenplay for Pocket Money (1972), and he wrote early drafts of Great Balls of Fire! (1989) and Dirty Harry (1971).[7]

Malick has written an original screenplay for The Thin Red Line producers Robert Michael Geisler and John Roberdeau entitled The English-Speaker, and has also been linked to a screen adaptation of Walker Percy's The Moviegoer. Rumors were reported in May 2006 linking Malick to a possible adaptation of J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, but neither of these projects have come to fruition.[8]

It has been announced that he is set to follow The Tree of Life with an as of yet untitled love story, with Christian Bale (who appeared in The New World), Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams and Olga Kurylenko set to star. Shooting is said to begin in the fall of 2010[9].

Seclusion and personal life

Malick is famously reclusive.[10] His contracts stipulate that no photographs of him are to be taken, and he routinely declines requests for interviews.[11] His only known public appearance was in October 2007 for a conversation with film historians Antonio Monda and Mario Sesti as part of the Rome Film Festival.[12]Friends of his, such as Martin Sheen, have often remarked that Malick is a very warm and humble man who simply prefers to work without media intrusion.

Malick married Michele Morette in 1985; they divorced in 1998. Michele Morette died in July 2008 from pancreatic cancer in Paris, France.

Malick married Alexandra "Ecky" Wallace in 1998. They reside in Austin, Texas.



  • Peter Biskind, 1998. Easy Riders / Raging Bulls, London: Bloomsbury.
  • Peter Biskind, 1998. 'The Runaway Genius', Vanity Fair, 460, Dec, 116-125.
  • Stanley Cavell, 1979. The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film, Enlarged Edition, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Michel Chion, 1999. The Voice in Cinema, translated by Claudia Gorbman, New York & Chichester: Columbia University Press.
  • Michel Ciment, 1975. 'Entretien avec Terrence Malick', Positif, 170, Jun, 30-34.
  • G. Richardson Cook, 1974. 'The Filming of Badlands: An Interview with Terry Malick', Filmmakers Newsletter, 7:8, Jun, 30-32.
  • Charlotte Crofts, 2001, 'From the "Hegemony of the Eye" to the "Hierarchy of Perception": The Reconfiguration of Sound and Image in Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven', Journal of Media Practice, 2:1, 19-29.
  • Terry Curtis Fox, 1978. 'The Last Ray of Light', Film Comment, 14:5, Sept/Oct, 27- 28.
  • Cameron Docherty, 1998. 'Maverick Back from the Badlands', The Sunday Times, Culture, 7 Jun, 4.
  • Martin Donougho, 1985. 'West of Eden: Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven', Postscript: Essays in Film and the Humanities, 5:1, Fall, 17-30.
  • Roger Ebert, Review of Days of Heaven, Chicago Sun-Times Inc
  • Graham Fuller, 1998. 'Exile on Main Street', The Observer, 13 Dec, 5.
  • John Hartl, 1998. 'Badlands Director Ending his Long Absence', Seattle Times, 8 Mar.
  • Brian Henderson, 1983. 'Exploring Badlands'. Wide Angle: A Quarterly Journal of Film Theory, Criticism and Practice, 5:4, 38-51.
  • Les Keyser, 1981. Hollywood in the Seventies, London: Tantivy Press.
  • Terrence Malick, 1973. Interview the morning after Badlands premiered at the New York Film Festival, American Film Institute Report, 4:4, Winter, 48.
  • Terrence Malick, 1976. Days of Heaven, Registered with the Writers Guild of America, 14 Apr; revised 2 Jun.
  • James Monaco, 1972. Badlands, Take One, 4:1, Sept/Oct, 32.
  • Kim Newman, 1994. 'Whatever Happened to Whatsisname?', Empire, Feb, 88-89.
  • Brooks Riley, 1978. 'Interview with Nestor Almendros', Film Comment, 14:5, Sept/Oct, 28-31.
  • J. P. Telotte, 1986. 'Badlands and the Souvenir Drive', Western Humanities Review, 40:2, Summer, 101-14.
  • Beverly Walker, 1975. 'Malick on Badlands', Sight and Sound, 44:2, Spring, 82-3.
  • Janet Wondra, 1994. 'A Gaze Unbecoming: Schooling the Child for Femininity in Days of Heaven', Wide Angle, 16:4, Oct, 5-22.


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