Terrence Malick is an American filmmaker who has only made eight films over the course of a forty-year career. [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome And each one of those has been hailed as a masterpiece.]]

He made his debut in 1973 with ''Film/{{Badlands}}'', about teenagers on a cross-country killing spree. He followed that up in 1978 with ''Film/DaysOfHeaven'', an evocative, dream-like portrait of a wheat farm in the early 20th century America.

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. 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 Pocahontas. Like ''The Thin Red Line'' before it, ''The New World'' baffled audiences and critics when it was initially released, but was since 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 Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2012, Malick released ''Film/ToTheWonder'', a film about a couple who visit Oklahoma. The film was met with [[LoveItOrHateIt cheers and boos]] at the Venice Film Festival, although later reviews have been more positive.
* ''Film/{{Badlands}}'' (1973)
* ''Film/DaysOfHeaven'' (1978)
* ''Film/TheThinRedLine'' (1998)
* ''Film/TheNewWorld'' (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.
* CreatorBreakdown: [[invoked]] Some people claim this is the reason he didn't make a movie for 20 years.
* 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, and doesn't have to make movies to make his living. 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. YMMV on whether this works or not.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.