Even for a die-hard Terrence Malick fan like myself, there’s no denying that Voyage of Time was at once a remarkable feat and, to put it in my uncle’s terms, a bit much. The “documentary” could easily be passed off as navel-gazing nonsense, and I can’t say I blame those who have taken that position on any version of the movie that’s been screened. Comparisons to Planet Earth are ridiculous, but the movie does work largely in philosophical curlicues, textures, landscapes, and visions of the natural world. It could be a work of poetic pretension, or something entirely new that simply has no reference point other than to certain sections of Malick’s own miraculous The Tree of Life.
The movie was released in two versions – Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience and Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey – and now, it will have a third version, according to Variety. Malick will release a version of the IMAX cut – the shorter version – in 3.6:1 aspect ratio. That might not sound like much but it’s gargantuan, far out-reaching (as Variety points out) even the fantastic roadshow version of Quentin Tarantino‘s undervalued The Hateful Eight. Another surprise: the new version will hit select theaters across the nation this Friday, December 9th. That’s out of nowhere, but Malick fans are a dedicated bunch and are likely already ordering tickets to the theater closest to them that’s showing this. Heck, that’s probably what I’ll be doing when I’m done posting this.
Here’s the official synopsis for the IMAX version of Voyage of Time:
Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience is a one-of-a-kind celebration of life and the grand history of the cosmos, transporting audiences into a vast yet up-close-and personal journey that spans the eons from the Big Bang to the dinosaur age to our present human world … and beyond. A labor of love from one of American cinema’s most acclaimed and visually exciting filmmakers, Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life), Voyage of Time has been nearly four decades in the making and represents the filmmaker’s first foray into documentary storytelling. The film’s panorama of awe-inspiring images will take you into the heart of monumental events never witnessed — from the birth of the stars and galaxies to the explosion of diverse life-forms on planet earth, including humankind — in immersive new ways that only IMAX can deliver. This is a cosmic experience — a hymn to the glories of nature, life and scientific discovery — in which all the elements come together to form Malick’s most original film to date.
Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience, a 40-minute, giant-screen adventure narrated by Brad Pitt, which immerses audiences directly into the story of the universe and life itself, will be shown exclusively in IMAX® theatres.