The Terrence Malick rumour mill was set spinning in 2019, as Mark Rylance was poised to begin shooting the director’s then-titled passion project The Last Planet. “Terry wrote four versions of the character of Satan,” he revealed, “and I thought I would play only one. But I heard I was going to play all four.”
Filming got underway soon after, moving from Iceland to southern Italy before wrapping in Rome. Karim Debbagh, one of 14 producers listed in the credits, described the film as a “highly spiritual experience” that puts a “dark genre twist” on the Good Book.
The film’s IMDb page shows grainy set photos of a betrilbied Malick standing next to a donkey with Poldark’s Aidan Turner. The logline of the since retitled The Way of the Wind (which will no doubt be released under a new moniker) is ‘A retelling of several episodes in the life of the Christ,’ including passages that bear a resemblance to the Book of Job, which Malick previously covered in 2011’s The Tree of Life. The director’s recent output has been lauded, but will his first direct adaptation of scripture alienate non-believers?
In typical style, Malick has assembled a cast of A-listers and art-house darlings. Géza Röhrig will play Christ, Matthias Schoenaerts will play Saint Peter, and former heart-throb du jour Douglas Booth, who Malick mistook on the phone for Douglas Hodge, will appear in an as yet unspecified role.
Malick will also reunite with his A Hidden Life star Franz Rogowski and director of photography Jörg Widmer, so expect more wide-lensed, naturally-lit cinematography. In 2020, Eleni Karaindrou (Ulysses’ Gaze) was enlisted to compose the score.
With little more than a peep from the actors involved, online speculators have begun to question the status of the film. Despite cropping up on annual ‘films to look forward to’ lists, Malick’s marathon editing process has seemingly left the project in limbo. Earlier this year, reports suggested that Cannes head Thierry Frémaux and Malick had conversations for a walk down the Croisette, which didn’t come to pass.
The rumour mill claims that it may end up as an ‘unfinished symphony’. But with post-production on Knight of Cups and Song to Song taking three and five years respectively, it’s still too early to say when it will be ready.
Malick’s acolytes can only pray at the altar in the hope of a trailer, first-look image or fresh announcement. Martin Scorsese spoke at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival about how Malick wrote him a letter after watching Silence, asking ‘What does Christ want from us?’ Maybe, in The Way of the Wind, he will find his answer.
Published 5 Oct 2022
By Taylor Burns
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Wales’ finest son sheds his batsuit to search for God and transcendence in Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups.