The last time Terrence Malick’s decades-in-the-making “history of everything” documentary The Voyage Of Time was in the news, back in February of this year, Malick’s Sycamore Pictures had just settled a lawsuit with the investment group Seven Seas Partnership, which had accused Malick of taking money (and time) earmarked for The Voyage Of Time and spending it on his many other projects. As Malick fans know, the reclusive director developed The Voyage Of Time simultaneously with The Tree Of Life, and for a while the rumor mill had The Voyage Of Time being released in IMAX theaters around the same time as The Tree Of Life, as a companion-piece and an expansion on the latter film’s origins-of-consciousness sequences. Malick associates who’ve seen some of the footage from The Voyage Of Time have described the film as breathtaking, and potentially the most commercial work he’s ever done, which would explain why his backers would be so irritated that Malick would focus on projects like To The Wonder and Knight Of Cups while The Voyage Of Time sits unfinished.
Well, judging by the news in Variety this morning, The Voyage Of Time apparently still hasn’t been completed, but it’s far enough along that two of the companies with international distribution rights—Wild Bunch and Sophisticated Films—will be pitching the picture at Cannes. While the companies reportedly won’t be showing potential buyers any footage in the Cannes market, they will have a selection of stills to peruse; and they’ve already begun to explain more about what The Voyage Of Time is, releasing a statement that calls it, “A celebration of the Earth, displaying the whole of time, from the birth of the universe to its final collapse.”
Wild Bunch and Sophisticated are planning a 2016 release, and are looking to show The Voyage Of Time as a feature in regular theaters, and in a truncated 40-minute IMAX version. (Much of the movie was shot with special IMAX cameras, with input from some top nature photographers.) As to whether The Voyage Of Time really is a more mainstream film from Malick, it’s probably worth remembering how many times the actors in Malick films have complained that he gave them a script for a beautiful, accessible movie and then cut it into abstraction in the editing room. That said, audiences do seem more willing to coast along on waves of gorgeous images in the context of a non-fiction film; and Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval appears to be genuinely enthusiastic when he says in the Variety article, “This is a classic for the future generations, Malick’s legacy to humanity.” Looks like we have a reason to stay alive for a couple more years.