Terrence Malick is a tinkerer. He just can’t leave well enough alone sometimes. But unlike George Lucas who is a moneygrabbing whore when it comes to his beloved Star Wars saga, Malick’s desire to recut his latest opus, The Tree of Life, isn’t because he wants to make sure a certain character shoots first, or because of enhanced effects. It’s because he has so much footage that he doesn’t want to go to waste.
Tree of Life cinematographer Emmanuel Lubeski was interviewed in the French entertainment magazine Les Cahiers du Cinéma (via The Film Stage), and it was during that interview that he revealed that Malick was still playing with the 300 miles plus footage shot and cutting a six hour version of the film. According to The Playlist [via an IMDB forum poster], here’s a rough translation of what Lubeski said about the miles of footage a new cut.
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!
It wouldn’t be the first time that Malick has re-edited one of his films. When The New World first screened for critics it was as a 150-minute cut. By the time of its theatrical release fifteen minutes were trimmed to make it a shorter, 135-minute cut. Then when it came to the DVD and Blu-ray releases, Malick delivered a 172-minute “Extended Cut.” Considering that there was a longstanding rumor that Malick had a five-hour first cut of The Thin Red Line somewhere (the final running time was 170 minutes), which featured performances from Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Sheen, Gary Oldman, Bill Pullman, Lukas Haas, Viggo Mortensen and Mickey Rourke that were ultimately cut, a six-hour Tree of Life isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
And I’m sure I’m not the only one who would want to see where Malick’s supposed six hour cut takes us. Recently, Apple posted a short featurette about The Tree of Life with Christopher Nolan and David Fincher offering their two cents about Terrence Malick and his latest directorial achievement. Take a look.
Travis Leamons is one of the Inside Pulse Originals and currently holds the position of Managing Editor at Inside Pulse Movies. He's told that the position is his until he's dead or if "The Boss" can find somebody better. I expect the best and I give the best. Here's the beer. Here's the entertainment. Now have fun. That's an order!