Terrence Malick in Texas

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas (@peteramartin)
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Terrence Malick in Texas
Of the three Terrence Malick films the Dallas Film Society will be screening this week -- Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line -- in advance of The Tree of Life opening locally on Friday (part of a nationwide expansion), only one is set, geographically, in Texas. But from an emotional and spiritual perspective, all three are closely related to The Tree of Life. (A New World is a different matter entirely.)

Badlands starts in a small town in South Dakota in the 1950s, where the residential streets are deceptively quiet. Days of Heaven begins in a Chicago factory before migrating to the big open fields of West Texas, with only the owner's small home in view. The Thin Red Line takes place in the Pacific during World War II. And The Tree of Life revolves around a family's life in a small town in Texas in the 1950s, bringing us full circle.

All of Malick's films are worthy of deeper study, and there's no finer way to do that than to see them on the biggest screen possible, preferably with other people so you can discuss the wonderment and the befuddlement together. The "Malick Retrospective" series begins in Dallas tonight with Badlands, continuing tomorrow with Days of Heaven, and concluding with The Thin Red Line on Thursday. All screenings are set for 7:30 p.m. at the Angelika Film Center, and tickets are priced at $6. The Tree of Life then opens exclusively there on Friday.

Check around your town and see if anyone has similar retrospectives planned. If not, all three are available on DVD, with the latter two on Blu-ray. You don't have to see them before The Tree of Life, which stands alone, but it's fascinating to watch Malick's steady progression from the lovely, incisive, yet straight-forward Badlands to half-narrative, half-silent Days of Heaven to the poetic free form of The Thin Red Line to whatever you want to call The Tree of Life.
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