Ostensibly an exploration of the birth and evolution of our planet, the origin of the film itself dates back, fittingly, to the early stages of Malick’s career: in the late 1970s, he began developing a project for Paramount, titled Q. While it never was completed, parts of it have survived in the director’s most recent films, including Voyage of Time.
Given Malick’s penchant for philosophical digressions, breathtaking imagery and little regard for plot, the more freeing documentary form appears to be right in his wheelhouse, with his story of how Earth came to be seamlessly fitting alongside his musings on life, death and love in America and abroad (though it’s up for debate whether his previous features influenced Voyage of Time, or vice versa). Every single shot has a slightly hypnotic quality, coupled with that intimate grandeur one can expect from the director.
The film is recognisably Malickian, for better and worse: when the feature-length 90-minute version – the one seen for this review – premiered at the Venice Film Festival, even the most ardent admirers of the director’s oeuvre, enthralled though they may have been by the Emmanuel Lubezki-inspired visuals, found it hard to put up with Cate Blanchett’s increasingly repetitive and grating voiceover.
There is another cut of the film, one that is currently unreleased, and said to be 40 minutes long, shot in IMAX, and narrated by Brad Pitt. Viewing both versions would be the preferred option to fully understand the inner workings of this project, which in its current state is a fascinating but also frustrating experience, one that perhaps might have benefited from playing without any spoken commentary. It’s unlikely to convert the uninitiated, but there’s enough material for Malick fans – and detractors – to muse upon.
Voyage of Time: Life's Journey was reviewed as part of the Venice Film Festival - we'll let you know when it has a UK release date
|What||Voyage of Time: Life's Journey review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
01 Jul 17 – 02 Jul 17, Times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more details|