Terrence Malick is one of the great enigmas of contemporary filmmaking, a shadowy figure whose towering reputation rests largely on a very small body of work. A visual stylist beyond compare, Malick emerged during the golden era of 1970s American movie-making, bringing to the screen a dreamlike, ethereal beauty countered by elliptical, ironic storytelling; resonant and mythic, his films illuminated themes of love and death with rare mastery, their indelible images distinguished by economy and precision.
Born in Waco, TX, on November 30, 1943, Malick spent many of his formative summers working as a farmhand, an experience upon which he would draw extensively in his films. Upon graduating from Harvard with a degree in philosophy, he entered Magdalen College in Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, but exited prior to completing his final thesis. On returning to the U.S., he became a freelance journalist, with his byline appearing in such publications as Life, Newsweek, and The New Yorker. While tenuring as a philosophy professor at M.I.T., Malick enrolled in a colleague's film course. In 1969, he was accepted into the first graduating class at the American Film Institute's Center for Advanced Studies, financing his studies by rewriting the screenplays for such films as Deadhead Miles (which did not see release until 1982), Dirty Harry, and Drive, He Said.