Terrence Malick's IMAX Evensong

If you're lucky enough to live in one of the few places where Terrence Malick's Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience is playing, do yourself a favor and go see it. Take your kids, your church small group, your fellow lovers of cinema and nature and awe-inspiring beauty. The 45-minute film (a 90-minute, non-IMAX version is set to release in 2017) is a perfect example of the sort of liturgical cinema Malick has mastered. The 72-year-old auteur turns cinematic images into stained glass and couples prayers and sacred music (literally: Haydn’s “The Creation,” Bach’s “Mass in B Minor,” Poulenc’s “Gloria,” Mahler’s “Resurrection," among others) with images of God's majestic creation in a manner that I can only describe as a cinematic evensong service in a stadium-seating cathedral.

Roger Ebert called The Tree of Life "a form of prayer" and prior to his death included it in his top ten films of all time list. I reviewed Life for Christianity Todayand have written dozens of essays on the liturgical bent of Malick's work, including on the Holy Spirit in Tree of Life, theologian Peter Leithart's take on Malick, and a piece on "How to Watch a Malick Film" that discusses his fixation on Eden and other biblical themes.

I reviewed Malick's latest (and his first IMAX film) for The Gospel Coalition, which you can read here. An excerpt:

With Voyage, Malick bridges the worlds of science and faith by way of art. His film is not a secular ode to the glories of nature, but a contemplative liturgy that revels in the artfulness of creation, being, and time, thus giving praise to the Artist behind it all. This is clear in Pitt’s voiceover when, early on, the cosmos are described a way that echoes Psalm 19:1 and Job 38:7: “The first stars, singing.”

Do stars really sing? To whom are they singing? In Malick’s world, every natural thing is part of an angelic choir singing praises to the Being who holds all being together, guiding the movement of time and working ever so slowly and methodically (at least from our finite perspective) to add brushstrokes and layers and color to the canvas. “Eons perfecting a leaf, a stone,” Pitt observes at one point in the film, marveling at an Artist who’d spend billions of years on the intricacies of seemingly insignificant corners of the composition.

Read my full review at TGC.