The central role of music in director Terrence Malick’s films

Posted on: January 9, 2020

“The center of Terrence Malick’s films [is] a spiritual theme—a question—examined through motion and music,” writes Tim Greiving in Sunday’s (1/5) Los Angeles Times. “ ‘A Hidden Life,’ his latest, [has] the same elliptical, poetic style he’s been exploring since 1978’s ‘Days of Heaven.’ It has an elegiac score by James Newton Howard, featuring violin solos by James Ehnes and a main theme that conjures the heartbreaking beauty of paradise lost. But, as with all of the director’s films, it also features a collage of classical masterworks…. Malick’s [1973] ‘Badlands’ … starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek [had] an underscore by George Tipton … and some tunes by James Taylor, but the main thrust was a recurring use of Carl Orff’s childlike piece for xylophone, ‘Gassenhauer.’ … [For] ‘Days of Heaven,’ Malick … asked composer Ennio Morricone to incorporate ‘Aquarium’ from Camille Saint-Saens’ ‘The Carnival of the Animals.’ … [In] ‘The Thin Red Line,’ [scored by Hans] Zimmer … Malick also used music by Gabriel Fauré, Charles Ives and Arvo Pärt … and the basis for some of Zimmer’s score … was an American folk hymn the director heard on NPR.”