Terrence Malick’s Jesus movie gets a new title and a composer

Terrence Malick’s Jesus movie gets a new title and a composer November 20, 2020

It’s been almost a year since Terrence Malick finished filming his upcoming Jesus movie, and there was has been very little news about it since. That has begun to change in recent weeks, though, as cast and crew members have talked about the film — always very briefly, and without giving anything away — and new facts have trickled out.

First, the film has a new title. It used to be called The Last Planet, but apparently that was only a working title. The “Terrence Malick Community” Facebook site One Big Soul reports that the title is now, and was always meant to be, The Way of the Wind.

The new title may be a nod to the words of Jesus in John 3:8:

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

But an even likelier reference point — particularly considering the influence of the Hebrew Bible’s Wisdom literature on Malick’s recent films — may be Ecclesiastes 11:5:

As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.

Second, the film has a composer. The Greek radio station Athens 9.84 reports that Eleni Karaindrou, who contributed the track ‘Lament I’ to Malick’s Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey in 2016, has “completed her music” for The Last Planet, as it was then known.

Third, Mark Rylance, who plays Satan in the film, alluded to his work on the film while talking to Third Coast Review about the Netflix film The Trial of the Chicago 7:

Like yourself, [Trial director Aaron] Sorkin comes out of theater. In fact, one of his earlier successes was a courtroom drama for the stage [A Few Good Men]. And the film feels very theatrical—just a couple of primary locations, most of the actors are on the courtroom set at the same time—did he let it play out like this, with long, unbroken takes? Or was it more of a traditional shoot?

I’d come from working with Terrence Malick [on the upcoming The Last Planet], so that’s a a 90-minute take [laughs]. During the take, you’ll hear the cameraman say “Someone help me, please take the camera,” and someone else takes the camera, and Terrence says, “Carry on. Don’t worry about that.” So coming to Aaron, it didn’t feel like long takes.

This quote amuses me, as I took part in a roundtable interview with Wes Studi when he was promoting Malick’s The New World, which was shot with film and not digitally:

WS: Let me say this: I heard the word “cut” maybe three times.

Reporters: [ laughter around the room ]

WS: Have you heard this before?

Reporters: No! . . . I could have guessed it! . . . I wanted it!

WS: It’s a tool that a number of directors use, I’ve seen it done before.

Reporters: [ laughter around the room ]

WS: But this one, because so much of it is handheld, and some is — very few with the Steadicam, but some with Steadicam — but what we began to call it was “roll out”. “Roll out, the film has gone. That’s the only thing that’s going to stop this scene is the end of the film.” I find it does, however, keep you in the moment.

Finally, location manager Markus Bensch talked to the podcast Locations on Two about working with Malick on A Hidden Life and The Way of the Wind. He starts talking about The Way of the Wind — or The Last Planet, as it was then called — at the 54:30 mark:

Among other things, Bensch says Malick shot 200 hours of footage in 50 days and didn’t allow the actors to stay in trailers or sit on chairs, and Bensch jokes that the film will be ready in another three or four years — or maybe he isn’t joking about that…?

Besides Rylance, the film’s cast also includes Géza Röhrig as Jesus, Matthias Schoenarts as Peter, Aidan Turner as Andrew, and Bible-movie veterans Joseph Fiennes, Joseph Mawle, Douglas Booth, Selva Rasalingam, Tawfeek Barhom and Ben Kingsley — though as always, it remains to be seen who will survive Malick’s editing process.

— The picture at the top of this post shows Matthias Schoenarts as Peter and Géza Röhrig as Jesus.

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