Whether through sheer force of will or via some supernatural power, Terrence Malick operates within Hollywood without having to compromise much. Yes, Hollywood's meddled a bit—the original cut of his WWII epic The Thin Red Line ran nearly five hours, but wasn't released—but mostly Malick plays by his own rules. Actually, The Thin Red Line offers proof of the filmmaker's genius, because even though that film feels incomplete, miscut, it still manages to be the greatest war movie ever made.
Up until about two weeks from now, the official count for Malick's filmography rests modestly at four. Four feature length films in 38 years. That's an impossibly small amount to rest genius status on. But watching these stunningly beautiful and affecting films, there's no arguing with it. This weekend the Musuem of the Moving Image offers the rare chance to watch all of his films on the big screen. The event coincides with the imminent release of The Tree of Life, Malick's latest film. (It comes out May 27.) The Tree of Life stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, and is about everything. This is probably somehow an understatement.
Badlands (a picture about crime and love). Days of Heaven (a picture about love and nature). The Thin Red Line (a picture about nature and war). The New World (a picture about love and nature). These are simple summaries of rich films whose images won't leave you. Go watch.