Terrence Malick

Reflecting on Terrence Malick's films

Reviewing your notes and reactions to the films in our first group, what makes Terrence Malick's films visually distinct? In other words, what are the signature features of mise-en-scene in his films? What other "authors" do you think contribute to these signatures - directors of photography? costume designers? production designers? actors?

Film Analysis: THE NEW WORLD

Below are images from The New World for use in the Film Analysis assignment. Choose two for analysis and focus on form and density.

Remember, you only need to do a Film Analysis for two of the three films in this first group. The New World is the third, and final, film in this group.

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Film Analysis: DAYS OF HEAVEN

Below are images from Days of Heaven for use in the Film Analysis assignment. Choose three for analysis and focus on camera proxemics, depth or focus and framing. Choose frames that will give you the opportunity to discuss different forms and uses of the required elements.

Remember, you only need to do a Film Analysis for two of the three films in this first group. Days of Heaven is the second film in the group.

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Film Analysis: BADLANDS

Below are images from Badlands for use in the Film Analysis assignment. Choose two for analysis and focus on identifying the dominant and subsidiary contrasts in each frame. Be sure to explain why your eye is drawn where it is and in what order.

Remember, you only need to do a Film Analysis for two of the three films in this first group. Badlands is the first film in the group.

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First Thematic Essay

Topic and direction:

  • Write a critical analysis of mise-en-scène (m-e-s) in the films of Terrence Malick based on course screenings, readings, and discussions.
  • As a way of explaining or illustrating your argument, your analysis should include a close reading of at least one of the frame grabs from each film in the group posted to the blog for the Film Analysis assignment. You may also use an image, or images, of your choosing.
  • Note that “critical” in this context means to be detailed in your analysis, not judgmental as to quality. Think about what is visually distinctive about Malick's films.
  • As you select elements or points for discussion, consider the contributions of other "authors" to the look and feel of the films. For example, the directors of photography or the production designers.

Additional guidelines and requirements:

  • As a formal academic paper, this essay should have a clear thesis, or central argument, to make. Sample prompts for this essay: “Mise-en-scène (m-e-s) in Terrence Malick's films is defined by …”, or, “In Badlands, Days of Heaven and The New World, the filmmakers use mise-en-scène (m-e-s) to the following effect …”
  • Essays should cite and document sources following these guidelines.
  • Films should be cited as follows. The first reference should provide a complete title and a date of release in parentheses, e.g., Days of Heaven (1978) (note that the film title is italicized). Subsequent references need only include the title. For films with longer titles, such as The New World, subsequent references can use a truncated title, as in World or New World. Film titles do not need to be included in the list of cited works.
  • Initial reference to mise-en-scène should use the full term. For subsequent references, “m-e-s” is acceptable. You can follow this guideline for all specialized terms.
  • There is no page requirement or limit for this paper, but use four to eight (5-8) as a guide.
  • Essays should be double-spaced with reasonably-sized fonts and margins (readability should be your goal). Number your pages.
  • Be specific in referencing names of filmmakers, characters, places, etc. IMDB and Wikipedia are both good sources for basic information about films and film productions.
  • For guidance on writing academic essays, refer to the resources I have on this page, including the WOU Writing Center. You can also consult with me. For longer questions or to have me review drafts, come to office hours. Shorter questions can be handled electronically via e-mail or on IM or over the phone (503-838-8296). You can also ask for advice via the class blog.

Due date and submission:

  • If you choose to write on this essay (remember, you will write on two of the three essays with an opportunity to rewrite the first), schedule a due date with me individually that should fall between M 4/29 and F 5/10.
  • You should schedule your due date for this essay by the end of the day (11:59 pm) on W 4/24.
  • Submit your work electronically by the agreed upon date following these guidelines. For the assignment in the filename, use “Malick”.
  • You will have until the end of your due day (11:59 pm) to either submit your paper or arrange an extension for full credit.
  • The first essay you write is worth fifteen (15) points towards your grade.