Voyage of Time

Terrence Malick's spectacular nature documentary spans time and space

Film Review by Ian Mantgani | 13 Oct 2016
Film title: Voyage of Time
Director: Terrence Malick
Starring: Cate Blanchett

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at stars,” goes the famous Oscar Wilde quote, but Terrence Malick, as is his wont, goes further in Voyage of Time, his latest extraordinary visual exploration of the cosmos. From the gutter to the stars, his film reminds us we are all made of the same stardust by cutting from lo-res footage of refugee camps and chaotic streets to ultra-high-def 70mm shots of nature at the scale of both awesome canyons and microscopic phenomena.

For Malick, all of this is a yearning to touch the face of God. Cate Blanchett’s voiceover, directed at Mother Nature herself, asks questions like “Who brought me here?” and “Nature, who am I to you?” And we see the Big Bang, the genesis of membranous matter, lava fizzing underwater, the formation of rock, Neanderthal man, all kinds of underwater life, even the dinosaurs. It’s the epoch-stretching flashbacks from Tree of Life expanded to feature length, traversing some of the same ground as Koyaanisqatsi and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Voyage of Time was a co-production involving National Geographic, and will be released in IMAX cinemas over the coming year in a truncated 45-minute version with the searching, poetic Blanchett narration replaced by a matter-of-fact substitution voiced by producer Brad Pitt. At the London Film Festival we were lucky enough to see the full 90-minute version, and it’s a visually dense treat for lovers of Malick’s brand of philosophical cinema as well as for children whose curiosity for the natural world has not yet been dampened or made impatient by conventional entertainments.

Voyage of Time screens at Glasgow Film Festival: 16 Feb, Cineword, 8.30pm | 17 Feb, Cineworld, 1pm

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Voyage of Time had its UK premiere at London Film Festival