To the Wonder

June 20, 2015


I admit, To the Wonder goes above my head. Terrence Malik appears to be fleshing out a technique he has adopted since The Thin Red Line, where he is transforming film into cinematic literature. Which is not to de-elevate cinema with this synergy – only that the style is very literary, which makes it more cryptic when digesting.


What do we know about what is being told to us? That doubt exists even with the human clasp of love. That, therefore, nothing is certain, if even that is up for grabs. Such a thesis is approached from four different personas, though mainly in the love tussle between a French woman and an American heartland man. Strangely, the man is seldom seen to be fighting over anything, even while being the center of attention – even devotion – of the French woman and for a brief spell an American woman he once knew. The similarities we see in both of these women is a soft desperation, of their souls clinging for an object of desire that will fulfill their hearts, when ultimately there is nothing to be had. With disappointment ensuing. What does this say then of the priest, as he doubts the existence of God while he still must perform his sacral duties to his people, but even most especially, and indeed truly beautiful, the weak, the broken, the sickly. He is performing a ritual of love, as must be considered one of the essential themes of Christianity and therefore Catholicism.


The disappointment, which we must wonder is caused in reaction to the creation of their own lives, found in three of the persons is a remark on the uncertainty of what will be; or rather, of the mismanagement of expectations. Such is the defining concept of being human, of the fatigue from freedom, where paradoxically the most vital needs of a person’s soul are expected to be had so carelessly.


It is the chore, nay, the burden of mastering love which converts a life of disappointment into one of gratitude. It is needing to endure the unendurable, needing to be confronted with the unanswerable, such as the death of a child, or the needless suffering of the many, or infidelity, that when overcome without degenerating forges a soul in the kin of transcendental authority. It is Abrahamic to step on the incomprehensible chaos and not sink. That such a world exists as an act of love must be understood by all, and finally is at the finale of the film with the grateful gesture to the quote love that loves us all.

Grade: A


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