If you went back for seconds and thirds on Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life for the thrill of its big-screen cosmic excursions, this new documentary might seem almost redundant. But the teaser here, in spite of the uninspiring voice-over by Brad Pitt, is enough to make me suspect we’ll see much that we haven’t seen before.

(More information here.)

I’ve never been a big IMAX fan. The immersive effect of an enormous screen is pretty cool for a while, but it always makes movies into something more like an amusement park ride than an encounter with art.

Personally, I’m more interested in the long-form, non-IMAX version of the film, which is narrated by Cate Blanchett. It seems obvious that we’ll get more of a sense from that one about what compelled Malick to make this journey. Surely its about more than mere camera wizardry. As cameras become more sophisticated, nature photography seems to become more dazzling all the time.

And past documentaries that have sought to overwhelm me with a constant river of dazzling images have not stayed with me past my dizzy, meandering stroll back to the car.

Bakara, for example, was awesome while you were watching it, but I can’t remember if it did much in the way of exploring ideas.

Malick’s passion for this project suggests it will be more than a compilation of mind-blowing images, more than the sum of its awesome parts. (Its Awe Sum?)

As with Malick’s last few films, I’m proceeding with caution and controlled expectations. I haven’t been wholly swept up by his meditative mode since The New World. But right now, considering the nature of this month’s turbulent news — murders, guns, lies, betrayals, greed, prejudice, wars, rumors of wars — something glorious, cosmic, and revelatory of the Creator’s sovereignty throughout the universe might be just what the doctor ordered, restoring perspective, inspiring a sense of possibility, and even making me long to experience what our Maker will do beyond this wicked and wearying age.

voyage of time poster