• Paul A Maher Jr

Knight of Cups book (update)

In my den, I have three black archival boxes. These boxes are split in thirds: 100-300; 400-600; and 700-900. From 100 thru 999, each slip of paper with a small magnet affixed to its back illustrates a frame of early footage for Terrence Malick's feature film, Knight of Cups. The purpose of this was to affix the shots to the wall and to act as a method to find where certain sequences were located in the Avid storage drive of the production office. These boxes were sent to me by Terrence Malick to assist me in my writing of Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups.

He had asked me one evening via phone, what my favorite film of his was. "Of yours?" I asked, incredulous that he would ever pose such a question my way, or to anybody. "Yes," he replied. Without hesitation, I told him Knight of Cups. I went on to tell him that I thought the film had encapsulated itself to his creative zenith, a new process of filmmaking that had never been attempted before. The movie, I told him, had touched something inside of me more than the others (though they all affect me in other profound ways that I could never shake, even if I wanted to). He replied, "I'm very pleased to hear that." Knight of Cups's disappointing reception had puzzled him, for in the film he sought to depict the crisis of modern man in the rat's maze of contemporary society.

I asked Malick whether he was hinting toward the concept for this film in The Tree of Life's "City of Glass" segment featuring actor Sean Penn. In the extended cut of the film, Penn, playing the older version of Jack, is seen lost in the city of Houston, "walking into walls" he says, in a voiceover at one point. Malick agreed, that the idea was birthed from that segment to extend the concept of "modern man" (as he calls it) who has lost his way (and perhaps it can be reasoned away that Song To Song can be considered the mirror counterpart as the film depicting "Modern Woman". At at any rate, both are considered universal and gender-fluid, as the state of humanity is repeatedly thrust into a dysfunctional state of confusion the more technology is meant to advance it. Malick's filmmaking prowess meant that he had to find the film in the hours of footage shot for the film, and not nail it down to a script that was already written.

My purpose with the book is not to depict the making of the film and Malick's intentions with it, but to explore how we can use the film to determine our own state of lostness and to one day, "Begin."

Please send me your comments and/or thoughts about any aspect of this.

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