Terrence Frederick Malick (born November 30, 1943) is an American filmmaker known for his privacy, the lengthy hiatus between his projects, his idiosyncratic approach to film-making and film production.

Unlike many members of the UsefulNotes/NewHollywood generation, Malick did not choose cinema as his vocation. In Harvard, [[TheSmartGuy he studied philosophy]], writing on Martin Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Kierkegaard and other [[UsefulNotes/{{Existentialism}} existentialist]] thinkers. He later worked as a journalist for Life and New Yorker magazine, and had contributed obituaries to Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. He eventually did become interested in cinema, inspired by arthouse film-makers but also by silent film-masters such as Creator/FWMurnau. He studied film at AFI in the late-sixties (Creator/DavidLynch and Creator/PaulSchrader were in the same class) and he found work as a screenwriter, before making his debut in 1973 with ''Film/{{Badlands}}''. This was his BreakthroughHit, riffing on the (then) popular OutlawCouple theme, by making a film about teenagers on a cross-country killing spree. Malick however differed with his incredibly distinct visual style, his poetic approach to narrative, use of landscape and groundbreaking cinematography and production design. In Malick's films, the style matters far more than the stories. Malick followed that up in 1978 with ''Film/DaysOfHeaven'', an evocative, dream-like portrait of a wheat farm in the early 20th century America. The film became iconic for its use of "magic hour" cinematography and natural lighting, i.e. using the actual sunlight and dim natural settings rather than studio lights[[note]]Extremely difficult to achieve at the time on film cameras owing to (then) film stock's limited capacities at recording light, with Malick and cinematographer Nestor Almendros more or less showing people that the stock could do stuff they didn't know was possible[[/note]].

He then took a twenty-year break from the film industry, spending a great deal of time in Paris and traveling. During that time he was rumored to have projects in the works, but nothing materialized until the late 1990s when he went into production on ''Film/TheThinRedLine'', an adaptation of James Jones's novel about the battle of Guadalcanal. This twenty-year absence is the true source of Malick's reputation as a reclusive artist, although friends note that it's because the film-maker is genuinely shy and not comfortable being a celebrity. [[https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/hollywood-bigfoot-terrence-malick-and-the-20-year-hiatus-that-wasnt/ Malick always maintained good relations with studios and producers]], and being independently wealthy, he did not really need to direct for a living and his hiatus was self-imposed rather than any opposition to studios. Critics and audiences didn't know quite what to make of it when it was released (it didn't help that it was released the same time as the more mainstream ''Film/SavingPrivateRyan''), but it was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including two for Malick, as Best Director and for his screenplay.

For a while it looked as if Malick might be going back into hibernation, but he returned in 2005 with ''Film/TheNewWorld'', a portrait of John Smith and UsefulNotes/{{Pocahontas}}. Like ''The Thin Red Line'' before it, ''The New World'' baffled audiences and critics when it was initially released, but has since been [[VindicatedByHistory acclaimed by critics as one of the best films of the 2000s]]. Six years later, Malick released his fifth film, ''Film/TheTreeOfLife'', a film about three boys growing up in 1950s Texas, which featured a much-discussed sequence involving the creation of the universe. It was met with critical acclaim on its release, and won the UsefulNotes/PalmeDOr at the Cannes Film Festival. ''The Tree of Life'' is the turning point in Malick's career in that it marked the start of his current and most prolific phase. Between 1970-2009, he had made four features. Between 2010-2017 he put out five films, outmatching his former output in less than a decade. Of course given the uncertain nature of independent film-making and Malick's history of dropping off the radar, no one can be sure how long this will last. He has also become a more public figure, appearing at film festivals and giving interviews, when before he had a reputation for being more aloof than Creator/StanleyKubrick.

* ''Film/{{Badlands}}'' (1973)
* ''Film/DaysOfHeaven'' (1978)
* ''Film/TheThinRedLine'' (1998)
* ''The New World'' (2005)
* ''Film/TheTreeOfLife'' (2011)
* ''Film/ToTheWonder'' (2012)
* ''Knight of Cups '' (2015)
* ''Voyage of Time'' (2016)
* ''Song to Song'' (2017)

!!Tropes that describe Malick's films:
* AllStarCast: [[invoked]] It's a testament to Malick's talent as a filmmaker that he is able to attract many top names to his films - the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thin_Red_Line_(1998_film)#Casting list of actors]] interested in appearing in ''Film/TheThinRedLine'' reads like a Who's Who of It Hollywood Players. The films themselves include stars such as Creator/RichardGere, Creator/JohnTravolta, Creator/AdrienBrody and more recently Creator/ColinFarrell, Creator/ChristianBale, Creator/BradPitt and Creator/SeanPenn (who, during the casting for ''The Thin Red Line'', straight up told Malick "Give me a dollar and tell me where to show up")
* BillingDisplacement: [[invoked]] Especially common in his latter three films. Actors with high billing often have roles that are little more than cameos.
* BladeOfGrassCut: Pretty common throughout all of his films.
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Malick has a wildly unconventional approach to filmmaking that pays dividends. [[Series/Reno911 Thomas]] [[Film/NightAtTheMuseum Lennon's]] experience working on ''Knight of Cups'' is recounted in [[http://www.businessinsider.com/thomas-lennon-terrence-malick-knight-of-cups-2016-2 this article]].
-->'''Lennon:''' Is this how it goes?\\
'''Creator/ChristianBale:''' Yeah.\\
'''Lennon:''' Every day?\\
'''Bale:''' Yeah.\\
'''Lennon:''' How long have you been doing this?\\
'''Bale:''' This is, like, day 25.
* CentralTheme: His films focus on themes of individual transcendence, nature, and the conflict between reason and instinct.
* CoolOldGuy: He's often been described as such and the rare public appearances he makes seem to confirm it.
* DeletedRole: [[invoked]] He is notorious for cutting actors out of his movies, or reducing their screen time to the point of insignificance, as he shapes his films as he is making them:
** In ''Film/TheThinRedLine'', Creator/BillyBobThornton, Creator/MartinSheen, Creator/GaryOldman, Creator/BillPullman, Lukas Haas, Creator/ViggoMortensen, and Creator/MickeyRourke all had their parts cut from the movie.
** In ''Film/ToTheWonder'', Creator/RachelWeisz, Creator/JessicaChastain, Creator/MichaelSheen, Creator/MichaelShannon, Amanda Peet, and Creator/BarryPepper all had scenes that were cut out of the final product.
* DescendedCreator: [[invoked]] Played a bit part in ''Badlands'' when the actor hired for the part didn't show up.
* DevelopmentHell: [[invoked]] He takes a very, very long time to work on his projects (most famously taking a twenty-year break between ''Film/DaysOfHeaven'' and ''Film/TheThinRedLine''), although lately he has been picking up the pace
* DoingItForTheArt: [[invoked]] His whole career. Malick is independently wealthy (on account of family involvement in the oil business), and doesn't have to make movies to make his living, and when he does he prefers working as an uncredited script-doctor instead of directing projects he's not interested in. This also explains the lengthy production (and post-production) periods of his films, and the lengthy gaps between them.
* FauxlosophicNarration: For lack of a better term. Many of Malick's films involve voiceover narration only vaguely related to what's going on onscreen, usually reflecting on the overall themes of the film, the mood and the tone. Many note that his narration is closer to literary stream of consciousness than the usual voiceovers in conventional narrative.
* ReclusiveArtist: [[invoked]] He hasn't given an interview since 1974, his contracts have stipulated that no pictures of him be taken on the set, and he doesn't attend official premieres of his films. Possibly averted, because friends say that he isn't really reclusive, and that he's just protective of his private life and prefers to work without press intrusion. He did show up for the official Cannes screening of The Tree of Life (but did not participate in the panel), and seemed rather comfortable with onlookers taking photos and video of him during the shooting of his latest film. One critic notes,
--> '''[[https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/hollywood-bigfoot-terrence-malick-and-the-20-year-hiatus-that-wasnt/ Matt Zoller Seitz]]''': ''Creator/TerrenceMalick is not a recluse. A recluse is Creator/HowardHughes holed up in [[EccentricMillionaire a hotel pissing into a milk bottle]]. If you live in certain neighborhoods of Austin you’ll see Malick shambling about with his binoculars and bird-watching gear. And if you walk up to him and say, “I love your movies,” he’ll say, “Thank you so much, and isn’t it such a wonderful day?” He has his reasons, we don’t know what they are, and I like that...This is a guy who knows a hell of a lot about a hell [[TheSmartGuy of a lot of things]]: [[RenaissanceMan religion, astronomy, birds, philosophy]]. He doesn’t strike me as someone for whom the sun rises and sets on the next deal; maybe movie-making is not the be-all and end-all for him. It’s entirely possible that when he’s out bird-watching he gets so swept up in it that he doesn’t think about movies at all that day.''
* SceneryPorn: ''Film/DaysOfHeaven'', ''Film/TheThinRedLine'', and ''Film/TheNewWorld'' were all nominated for Cinematography Oscars for a reason. ''Film/TheTreeOfLife'' took this UpToEleven, earning wild praise even from people who otherwise *[[Creator/BradJones vehemently hated]] the film.
* SignatureStyle:
** His films are marked by broad philosophical and spiritual overtones, as well as the use of meditative voice-overs from individual characters.
** Among cinematographers, his name is pretty much synonymous with utterly ''extravagant'' SceneryPorn.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVsCynicism: While some his films can get dark actually can lead a tad more to the idealistic side.
* TroubledProduction: [[invoked]] Again, a result of his style of filmmaking. - shooting miles and miles of footage, then figuring it out in the editing room (which often leads to the above mentioned BillingDisplacement, where actors who once appeared in whole subplots end up getting reduced to a cameo):
** ''Film/DaysOfHeaven'': Malick and his cinematographer Nestor Almendros fought with the crew over how to shoot and light the film (the crew favoring more traditional Hollywood methods of lighting while Malick and Almendros wanted to solely use natural lighting from the sun, meaning they could only shoot for a few minutes every day when the lighting conditions were right) The harvesting machines kept breaking down, further slowing production. Not helping matters was Malick's very loose shooting schedule, which tended to change based on the weather and his mood (Helicopters were hired one day for a certain special effects shot, only for him to change his mind and shoot a different scene, resulting in the helicopters being put on hold at great expense)
** ''Film/TheThinRedLine'': After a twenty-year hiatus, Malick finally made the film, after months of pre-production. The production itself was extremely difficult, due to the logistics of transporting cast and crew around the jungle landscape, and once production wrapped he spent another two years editing the film.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: [[invoked]] Was originally planning to direct ''Che'', a project Creator/StevenSoderbergh and Benicio del Toro were working on. That didn't happen due to difficulties finding financing at the time leading to Malick departing to direct ''The New World'' instead, and Soderbergh wound up directing it himself. The finished product wound up being highly acclaimed in its own right, but it's difficult not to wonder how it would've turned out if Malick had directed it. Interestingly, in his years as a journalist, Malick actually wrote on Che and travelled to Bolivia to investigate his life.