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Emmanuel Lubezki Directing "The New World"


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#1 Joe Taylor

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 12:47 PM

I've been watching the "Making of" doc for the "New World." Terrance Malick is no where to be soon (no surprise) but it seems that a great deal of the film (at least on this day) was directed by the cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki. In the doc he is shown regularly directing actors and setting up shots that involve man struggling with Nature. How could this be? When I imagine a Terrance Malick film, I envision a bona fide obsession with Nature out getting his hands dirty. I was more than a little dissapointed that he seemed to be no where near where "his" film was being made.

Can anybody enlighten me? Help restore my admiration for a man whose images of mankind being overwhelmed by Nature gave me goosebumps. See "Days of Heaven" with the girl's narration be punctuated by a great thunderstorm. That's the Terrance Malick I want to believe in.
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#2 Max Jacoby

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 01:42 PM

I have watched that same making of and I never thought that Lubezki was directing. I think the impression is partly due to the fact that Malick does not want to appear on camera. Also he seems to be more of a director who has worked out an overall concept that his collaborators follow, instead of micromanaging everthing. Camera operators talking to actors is quite common.
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#3 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 07:44 PM

Camera operators talking to actors is quite common.

That's exactly what I was thinking. There are so many instances where a DP or operator needs the actor to help them out a little with their blocking for one reason or another, and if a director didn't allow this basic communication it would slow things down considerably. I think it's up to those people involved to know when it's OK and when the director needs to be a part of the conversation.
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#4 Tom Lowe

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 10:31 AM

Malick is extremely camera shy. Just because they did not show him directing does not mean he did not direct! Read some articles about the production and you will see that Malick was very, very involved in every tiny little detail. He was very hands on.
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#5 Mariano Nante

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 11:25 PM

If you look carefully, you can spot Malick in the making of. In the part where they are near the sea, Farrell is talking to somebody off screen, the camera pans and immediately pans back, because the operator realised Terry was there. You actually can see a glimpse of him there.
And there is another part where Lubezki tells Terry "This is the shot of the movie!" and the camera chooses not to show him.

I do not think it is strange for the operators or the DP to do what they were doing. Malick shoots a LOT of film, and his method involves a lot of improvisation, as you may have seen. He wants to find unexpected moments, so he tells his crew to be aware of everything that goes around. If somebody wants to shoot a bird he saw, then he may do that. On The Thin Red Line, he told an operator to climb a hill and shoot the ground while running down. He didn't know if that would be useful or not. His directing style involves amassing a lot of material to help describe the world he has created
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#6 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 02:03 AM

Malick is extremely camera shy.


I don't know if it's "camera shyness" perse. He probably has some philosophical reason for why he doesn't want any modern photos taken of him.

And in regards to Lubezki and those behind the scenes portions where he's seemingly directing. If you watch the "Days of Heaven" extras, you'll get a sense from the interviews with John Bailey and Wexler of how Malick works. He's basically very particular about getting what he needs, but then will let the camera crew roam free, turn around and get a lot of "b-roll" of the environment, which is basically what Chivo was doing in that instance.
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#7 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 11:17 AM

Frankly I thought the cinematography was very good in "The New World" but really that's about it.
IMHO the art direction was really poor - the indigenous Americans looked too ravey and "fashion tribal".
On that note I felt Pocahantas' clothes were far more tailored than what I'm sure the reality was.
She looked a bit too madeup as well.
Personally I could not empathize with any of the characters and found the whole film shallow.
I consider Malik to be a brilliant director and this film was sub, sub-par in comparison to his other films.
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#8 Tom Lowe

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 07:33 PM

I don't know if it's "camera shyness" perse. He probably has some philosophical reason for why he doesn't want any modern photos taken of him.


No, I mean I think he is literally very shy. Everyone who has worked with him has mentioned this. Martin Sheen talks often about how shy Malick is. Yeah, he probably also has some philosophical reasons for not wanting to be on camera or make himself public at all. I suppose he wants to let his art speak for itself, perhaps.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 12:27 AM

I suppose he wants to let his art speak for itself, perhaps.


Reminds me of the old Kurosawa quote after a journalist asked him to explain one of his movies. Kurosawa replied "If I could have said it in words, I wouldn't have needed to make the movie."
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#10 Adam Thompson

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 01:52 AM

No, I mean I think he is literally very shy. Everyone who has worked with him has mentioned this. Martin Sheen talks often about how shy Malick is. Yeah, he probably also has some philosophical reasons for not wanting to be on camera or make himself public at all. I suppose he wants to let his art speak for itself, perhaps.


Yeah I guess that's why, when Martin's and Sissy's characters are in the rich man's house in Badlands, Malick is the guy that knocks on the door looking for the home owner. <_<
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#11 Max Jacoby

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 03:32 AM

As far as I know Malick doesn't even give interviews. A friend worked on the England portion of the 'The New World' shoot and she only had nice things to say about him.
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#12 Arni Heimir

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 06:54 AM

[Mallick] seems to be more of a director who has worked out an overall concept that his collaborators follow, instead of micromanaging everthing.


Isn't that technically producing?
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#13 Arni Heimir

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 07:12 AM

I kind of think that Mallick is one of those filmmakers whose idiosyncratic directing style is a legend in its own way. One could argue that it lacks direction all together.

I saw the New World and wasn't very impressed by it. It felt like it was more of free-association essay on the colonization of the new world without much of a narrative thrust. In fact I was really bored by it. I guess, I only watched it all because I wanted to succumb to the notion that I was a philistine if I didn't.

But I really liked his earlier work. "The New World" seemed to be mainly a celebration of the concept of the director instead of the film's subject.
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