Somehow, and I genuinely have no idea how, I have never seen a movie by Terrence Malick. I know, pretty shabby, but there are a lot of movies out there. I was determined to rectify that at this year’s festival so diligently headed off to watch his latest National Geographic effort Voyages of Time: Life’s Journey. From the blurb: ’employing stunning visual effects, this is a poetic, philosophical and purely cinematic meditation on life, death and nature, on our origins and, ultimately, the human condition.’
Well, yes, I’m sure it does do all of those things if that’s what you’re intending to see here. This is not what I got from it. What I got from it was a series of vaguely chronological clips charting the birth of the universe through to… well, I’m not completely sure what through to. I remember some nice footage of some whales towards the end. Stars appear, microscopic organisms flit around, shaky news footage show people doing people stuff, there is some pretty horrible cow slaughter, aboriginal people run around and discover stuff… and over various bits of this Cate Blanchett intones serious poetic thoughts.
I’m sure if you’re a mid-teen facing a lot of life decisions and wondering about your direction in the cosmos this is all profound stuff. Or maybe if you’re getting to that late age where you’re not sure how many years you have left. I don’t know, for me, this was just a series of random, albeit largely beautiful images, interspersed with other nonsense. Although it claims to travel the entire of time, it’s a movie that starts off nowhere and ends up right back there having gone nowhere in between. If you’re into that, best of luck to you, I’m really hoping that the rest of Malick’s back catalogue bears no resemblance to this.