Read Terrence Malick's 1979 Script Notes from the Tree of Life Precursor Qasida

treeoflife-voyageoftime-630.jpgWhen Paramount gave a post-Days of Heaven Terrence Malick $1 million, carte blanche, to make his next film, he began developing a highly ambitious project about the creation of life and the cosmos entitled Qasida (or, simply, Q). Of course, the studio balked at the abstract Malick-ness of it all, the film stalled, and the director took the next two decades off from filmmaking. But! Now you can read Malick's own Q script notes, circa 1979, and envision how his globe-trotting Q eventually morphed into this year's Tree of Life.

Excerpted from All Things Shining (via Movie City News):

A. Script

a. skeleton, but will want to try everything that is there

b. prosaic, but more things coming that will be fantastic

c. constantly changing different moods - never go back to same one - all these moods are in the world, we just want to bring them out.


p. 3 First Light (laser)

a. laser will break in, play by itself

b. light show: different kinds of symmetry

c. music strong and triumphant, like "Hallelujah Chorus,"

then cutting loose, not leading to anything

d. eventually, first shot of cosmos


p. 3 [sic] Volcanoes - Infant Earth - Night (Paul)

a. locations: Mountain travel to production manage, get permits;

must book this well in advance (talk to Robert Duvall re: Ganges river project; also American Sportsman)

1. Yellowstone (Geysers, geothermal areas) - tight angles

2. Chile Atacama Desert (smoking volcanoes, no snow in Chilean summer) - wider angles

3. Rift Valley (Kenya, Tanzania)

4. Iceland (fumeroles and Ice Age)

5. Hawaii (Volcanoes and Rain forest, high jungle)

b. Contact CSLP, SEAN, Volcanologists

c. no scouting trips, just send small crews with cameras (Arri III, Canon primes, best available lenses, etc.)

d. shot at night so no vegetation problem

e. perhaps use fog filters


f. SEM (Jim): 4200 line resolution; shoot black and white on color film; avoid jelly bean look

Ah, right. Can't have that dreaded jelly bean look. But seriously: Q sounds as beautiful and mesmerizing as the cosmic sequences it inspired in Tree of Life, and much more impenetrable. What would Sean Penn make of it? Read much, much more over at All Things Shining (link below).

Terrence Malick's Script Notes for Q [All Things Shining]


  • The WInchester says:

    Would much rather prefer a Malick directed version of Larry Cohen's Q. Just sayin...

  • clementine says:

    hi,I cant open the link which you gave to read more about the script,Im from Paris, this is what poped up while I try to open it,could you please help me
    Vous ne semblez pas avoir été invité à lire ce blog. Si vous pensez qu'il s'agit d'une erreur, nous vous suggérons de contacter l'auteur du blog et de lui demander une invitation.
    it means I need ask an invitation so I can go into to this blog,where can I get it?

  • Jen Yamato says:

    Hi Clementine -- it looks like the blog entry has since been restricted to invited readers, you'd have to request access from them directly.

  • Hi all, thanks for the link. Malick and his team of lawyers had me pull the information on Qasida down. Sorry. Still, Jen's brief outline posted up above is more information on Q than anyone else knew only a week ago.
    Best wishes,

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