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8427Re: [terrencemalick] more on Malick's writing style, where East meets West

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  • Angela Havel
    May 24, 2012
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      Hi Oscar:

      Ah, the mandorla. Good info, thanks for the reply...I'd like to carry on with an in-depth post, but we're getting our barn roofed, and I'm focused on that this week, as well as myriad other focuses these days (myriad focuses: oxymoron?).  I took a moment to post last week not thinking I'd get any replies...was getting a bit nostalgic for the active days of the Malick board, and the summer of 2006 when we time-ate our way to a record 367 posts in June...but looking back doesn't get today's work done, and I realize now how much disposable time I had in 2006 compared to now. So for me anyway, the Malick board heyday will remain a good memory. Then again, there's a couple of new Malick films coming...who knows...maybe they will spur a resurgence of discussion?

       
      Angela







      >________________________________
      > From: Oscar Houck <slowhorse12@...>
      >To: terrencemalick@yahoogroups.com
      >Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 3:04 PM
      >Subject: [terrencemalick] more on Malick's writing style, where East meets West
      >
      >Hi Angela,
      >
      >When I think about Malick and East vs. West writing styles, especially with
      >the arrival of *Tree of Life*, I think of a mandorla, which is a word you
      >don't hear to often anymore. Not a mandala, but a mandorla, the space where
      >two arcs or circles intersect. Think of the Christian sign or symbol of the
      >fish. The body of the fish is the mandorla. And "religion" in this sense,
      >and the Malickian one, takes on its literal meaning, which is to re-bind,
      >or re-unite, to bridge. In *Tree* we have the ways of Nature (of which man,
      >especially the obvious evils of the patriarchy, is a part) and the way of
      >Grace. The two paths are exemplified by the father and the mother in the
      >film. What the Sean Penn character (Malick's auto-biographical *doppleganger
      >*) manages to do internally is to assimilate both of these ways of being.
      >It's not an either-or proposition. This is where true grace or our sense of
      >what's holy is to be found, if only fleetingly. It's not by deciding for
      >feminine values over masculine, or light over dark, right over wrong, but
      >in realizing we contain both and in accessing and honoring the best of
      >both. It has a lot to do with the Jungian concept of owning your shadow,
      >making what heretofore had been unconscious, conscious. This is what
      >happens in what is nearly the film's final sequence, what many viewers have
      >wrongly assumed is Malick's version of heaven. It is instead a kind of
      >heaven on earth, an internal heaven that's available to all of us, when we
      >manage to briefly go there. It's the place of the internal mandorla, where
      >Penn's character accepts and reconciles all of the "ghosts" that live
      >within him, his dead brother, the seemingly opposing ways of life, of
      >being, that he inherited from his mother and father. It's a place where all
      >is forgiven (accepted, reconciled, re-united) and people can fully love one
      >another. All of this is accomplished on a metaphorical level by Malick's
      >mastery of East meets West, where your discussion of writing styles is
      >concerned. Malick creates better than perhaps anyone, the lyrical moment,
      >the impressionistic paintings of life that he seems to create using light,
      >natural light, but golden, sun dappled, magical. Think back to *DOH,
      >*essentially
      >a silent film told with beautiful, often breathtaking images, helped along
      >by a voiceover narrative. *Tree *enjoys the same impressionistic and
      >elliptical approach, what some viewers see as a lack of plot. But, it also
      >contains or holds all the plot one should need, the story of a family and
      >of a boy growing into manhood. I can't think of a clearer, more linear plot
      >than that. So, Malick manages to blend two styles, and although it's not
      >what we're used to, it makes for all the more delight in repeated viewings.
      >*The Thin Red Line* for example is a diamond that reveals more and more
      >brilliant facets, the more times you see it. In Malick, East meets West, in
      >more ways than one, and perhaps this is his greatest strength, the gift of
      >his personal mandorla, his version, his vision of grace.
      >
      >I think also of Emerson and his seemingly rambling essays that are
      >brilliant despite their difficulty or refusal to be "translated" easily.
      >They always circle back to their essential meaning, as do Malick's films.
      >And Emerson was certainly familiar with Eastern religion and philosophy as
      >he searched for a new voice for his America.
      >
      >Lastly, I think of the essential American storytellers, the Native
      >Americans, who relied almost strictly on an oral tradition and their
      >pictographs. Their own early movies, on the winter count of a teepee for
      >instance, with voiceover supplied around the campfire. Where visual memory
      >meets language, a mandorla, a holy place.
      >
      >All best, Oscar
      >
      >On Sun, May 20, 2012 at 9:29 AM, Angela Havel <anghave@...> wrote:
      >
      >> **
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >> Here's the correct link to the internal/external plot info:
      >> http://www.svic.net/pearl/plot.html
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >A misplaced comma messed up the link in my previous post.
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >I know I learned at some point in a graduate school literature course
      >> that stories in the Eastern tradition of plot don't privilege the rising
      >> action/climax/falling action model we're all used to in the West. If you
      >> looked at the East vs. West styles in a graph, the West shows a rising
      >> curve to a climax while the Eastern tradition would show a horizontal line
      >> with several small rises, rather than a rise to one climax.  However, this
      >> source is lost to memory, and after some searching online, I don't see a
      >> good compare/contrast of the two styles. The best I can find for now is a
      >> piece that discusses the Eastern tradition of *oral* storytelling, which
      >> includes some description in the third and fourth paragraphs about the
      >> bardic tradition and storytellers as "healers" that makes me think Malick
      >> studies and appreciates the Eastern storytelling forms:
      >> http://www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/dir/traditions/asiamiddleeast.html
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >I'll bet this presentation would be useful in getting more insight into
      >> the differences between the Eastern and Western traditions:
      >> http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Campbell-Shaping-Eastern-Tradition/dp/1583500545/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337458841&sr=8-1
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >I doubt Malick reads Joseph Campbell, but Malick may have read some of
      >> the original sources from which Campbell creates his "lay person's guide to
      >> myths." However, Malick's films are not Myth 101--I'd put them at an
      >> 800-level course--which is what I like about them, and which is what many
      >> others don't like about them.
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >>________________________________
      >> >> From: Frank Cook <orbital.11@...>
      >> >>To: anghave@...
      >> >>Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2012 1:48 PM
      >> >>Subject: RE: [terrencemalick] Malick sightings
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>Hi..
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>Could you repost this link ? It doesn't seem to be working..I'm really
      >> interested in what you said about Eastern style of storytelling vs Western
      >> style..Could you give me more info-via your opinion or through other
      >> sources?
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>http://www.svic.net/pearl/plot.html%2c...
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>Thanks,
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>Frank
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>Look up! Look up! Seek your maker fore Gabriel blows his horn...
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>________________________________
      >> >>To: terrencemalick@yahoogroups.com
      >> >>From: anghave@...
      >> >>Date: Sat, 19 May 2012 11:33:40 -0700
      >> >>Subject: Re: [terrencemalick] Malick sightings
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>Thanks for posting...the comments below clip are humorous..."HE DOES
      >> EXIST!!!"
      >> >>
      >> >>I finally saw Tree of Life.
      >> >>
      >> >>Observations:
      >> >>
      >> >>The mom floating was trippy.
      >> >>
      >> >>Brad Pitt's face is too kindly-looking to convincingly play a mean
      >> father.
      >> >>
      >> >>I related to the part where the family relaxes when the dad leaves for
      >> his trip...my father was much harsher than Malick's appeared to be, though.
      >> (Isn't it generally agreed this film is about Malick's own family?)
      >> >>
      >> >>Liked the originality of presentation, though a small part of me agrees
      >> withChristopher Plummer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw08GQw0hBI
      >> >>
      >> >>However, Malick doesn't "need a writer." He's a great writer himself,
      >> evidenced by his characterizations, dialogue, detailed descriptions, and
      >> general subtlety that marks a good writer in the two scripts I've read,
      >> Badlands and Days of Heaven.Starting with The Thin Red Line, he favors an
      >> Eastern style of story-telling, where "external" plot is not as important
      >> as "internal" plot (see http://www.svic.net/pearl/plot.html,) and there
      >> is no clearly-delineated exposition, rising action, climax, falling action,
      >> or denouement. Not necessarily a bad thing, but unsettling to those who
      >> cannot forego the Western-style "external" plot.
      >> >>
      >> >>I appreciate Malick thumbing his nose at the conventions of Western
      >> story-telling, yet I like his first two films, the two that display more
      >> conventional story lines, better than his later films. Not sure what that
      >> means.
      >> >>
      >> >>>________________________________
      >> >>> From: vanvutu <vanvutu@...>
      >> >>>To: terrencemalick@yahoogroups.com
      >> >>>Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2012 12:38 PM
      >> >>>Subject: [terrencemalick] Malick sightings
      >> >>>
      >> >>>
      >> >>>
      >> >>>From the current (May/June) issue of FILM COMMENT:
      >> >>>
      >> >>>Longtime Austin resident Terrence Malick
      >> >>>was spotted at SXSW shooting material
      >> >>>for his film about local music scenesters.
      >> >>>Once known as LAWLESS, the movie awaits
      >> >>>a re-christening after Malick generously
      >> >>>ceded the title to John Hillcoat, who'd
      >> >>>wanted it for the upcoming Prohibition
      >> >>>crime drama. Not-LAWLESS stars Christian
      >> >>>Bale, Ryan Gosling, Cate Blanchett,
      >> >>>Rooney Mara, and Natalie Portman, and
      >> >>>will be followed, per Malick's newly accel-
      >> >>>erated rate of production, by KNIGHT OF
      >> >>>CUPS, which re-teams Bale-Blanchett-
      >> >>>Portman and is apparently named after
      >> >>>a tarot card. No reports at press time of
      >> >>>demand for the latter title.
      >> >>>
      >> >>>++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
      >> >>>
      >> >>>And here is a video of Malick filming something with Christian
      >> Bale.During the shooting, a female bystander interrupts by offering Bale a
      >> canned beverage, which he accepts. She walks away saying, "That was so
      >> awesome!"
      >> >>>
      >> >>>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY__M_5WWjA
      >> >>>
      >> >>>
      >> >>>
      >> >>>
      >> >>>
      >> >>
      >> >>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >
      >> >
      >>
      >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >>
      >> 
      >>
      >
      >
      >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >
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