Is Terrence Malick Preparing a Six-Hour Cut of THE TREE OF LIFE?

     June 17, 2011

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By now, it’s common knowledge that writer/director Terrence Malick takes his time in the editing room. It’s a minor miracle that any of his films get released at all. He literally spends years tinkering away at the footage he’s shot, shaping and forming and re-forming the film from the ground up. This past May, his latest film The Tree of Life was finally released. It was met with mixed, yet passionate, reception, as it’s been described as everything from a religious experience to pretentious to boring. Even directors David Fincher and Christopher Nolan have weighed in on the the film’s significance. Now it appears that Malick is currently working on a six-hour cut of the Brad Pitt-starred drama. Hit the jump to see what the auteur’s cinematographer had to say about this very extended director’s cut.

the_tree_of_life_movie_poster_01During a press conference overseas, the team behind Tree of Life (sans Malick) sat down to talk about the film with Les Cahiers du Cinéma (via The Film Stage). Here’s the exchange between the interviewer and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki:

Does Malick think about editing when he’s filming?

We speak about it almost everytime. But most of the ideas about the editing we share on the set don’t make the final cut.

We maybe have been shot 600.000 metres (around 370 miles) of film.

The first cut was 8 hours long. Terry is working on/preparing a 6 hours long version of the movie. What I’ve seen (of this) is absolutely incredible, it’s wonderful. The longer version will have to/will likely, for the most part, relate to the children part. There were outstanding things, we’ve shot many, many things about Jack’s childhood : his friends, his evolution, his changes, his awareness of the loss of his childhood. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say all of this!

While it’s no surprise that Malick’s first cut of the flick clocked in at 8 hours, it is a bit interesting that he’s revisiting the material to put together a super-extended cut. He’s definitely got his hands full at the moment, as he’s in post-production on a romantic drama starring Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams that he shot towards the end of last year, and he’s also possibly prepping to shoot yet another film later this year. He’s also working on a documentary-type flick called Voyage of Time made up of footage that he shot during Tree of Life. All this from a guy who’s released just five films in the last 37 years.

There’s no word on when we’d be able to see this six-hour cut, or even if it’s going to be released. It could even be possible that Lubezki is actually talking about Voyage of Time, though that’s completely guesswork. Whatever the case may be, I think we would all be alright with a little more Terrenc Malick in the world.

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