Anyone familiar with Palme d’Or winner The Tree of Life or the sprawling CV of iconic filmmaker Terrence Malick—from Badlands to Days of Heaven to The Thin Red Line—would never question that this is an artist with a voice, a vision, and a level of audacity only surpassed by the extent of his curiosity. In Malick’s documentary debut Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey, the filmmaker has realized a vision and a goal going back many years—an exploration of the universe and all creation, from the sun, to the stars, to the depths of the ocean, and the far-out reaches of space.
A visually gorgeous and elaborate montage akin to extended sequences from The Tree of Life, narrated by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, Voyage of Time is nonetheless undoubtedly its own separate, marvelous creation. In its 90 minute run, the film is not only a look at our world, but an apt metaphor for the work and the journey of the artist into the beautiful and the unknown.
Following the film’s first screening at TIFF on September 9, producers Nick Gonda, Sarah Green and Sophokles Tasioulis gathered to discuss Malick’s vision and the process of working with one of the industry’s most enchanting and mysterious auteurs. “Terry has been working on this idea—and, in fact, on shots for this movie— since he began making films in the ‘70s. There’s actually footage in this film from the ‘70s that he’s carefully kept,” Green explains. “It’s been a passion of his for his whole filmmaking career to make a film that really examines our relationship to nature, and our place with nature, as humans.”
Per Green, Malick shot footage for the film whenever opportunities presented themselves over the years, with the producing team coming on board 12 years ago. The process came into focus over the last year, with the film solidifying and gelling into two different versions—the documentary and the IMAX experience. In producing and finding imagery for the film, Malick and company did their due diligence, finding great resources within the scientific community. “There’s many different astrophysical shots, as you’ll see, many of which are created from original high-res imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope,” says Gonda, who earned his first producing credit on The Tree of Life. “In addition to that, and through the guidance of our Visual Effects Supervisor, Dan Glass, we also created live, analogue re-creations of events telescopes wouldn’t be able to see.”
Receiving a standing ovation, and drawing rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival prior to its screenings in Toronto, Voyage of Time has already attracted various international distributors, including Universum in Germany, Gaga in Japan, eOne in Australia and Mars in Franc, with Wild Bunch handling international sales.
While Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey is awaiting a release date, Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience—a 45-minute version of the film, narrated by Brad Pitt—will be released October 7.
To view Deadline’s conversation with the Voyage of Time producers, click on the video above.