After a handful of ethereal movies light on dialogue, Terrence Malick might be moving back toward shooting his films with regular scripts. In his late-career resurgence, the Song to Song director has become notorious for handing his actors a few script pages irregularly through production, and not worrying about continuity. “Because you’re always creating these moments in his films, you’re not just following a script and making what’s happening on the page,” Natalie Portman told Vulture, explaining the experience of working with him on Song to Song. (Portman’s co-star Michael Fassbender told Vulture something similar, too.) But now, Malick is returning to a style that might be a bit more script-focused. During a Q&A after a screening of Voyage of Time at Washington, D.C.’s Air and Space Museum in March, the director said his style presents a lot of problems during production and postproduction.
“Well, there was a script, which was the evolutionary history of the universe [audience laughs]. And lately – I keep insisting, only very lately – have I been working without a script, and I’ve lately repented the idea. The last picture we shot, and we’re now cutting, went back to a script that was very well ordered,” he said. “There’s a lot of strain when working without a script because you can lose track of where you are. It’s very hard to coordinate with others who are working on the film. Production designers and location managers arrive in the morning and don’t know what we’re going to shoot or where we’re going to shoot. The reason we did it was to try and get moments that are spontaneous and free. As a movie director, you always feel with a script that you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. And with no script, there’s no round hole, there’s just air. But I’m backing away from that style now.”
Malick doesn’t name the movie directly, but he’s probably talking about Radegund, his World War II drama expected to be released later this year.