By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey is something between poetry and documentary. It’s a thought provoking and gorgeous interpretation of the story of our universe.
Written and directed by the critically acclaimed Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life), the long awaited documentary / arthouse film premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year and follows the journey of life in our universe.
Malick’s often met with controversy over his work, especially 2011’s The Tree of Life, which had a 16-minute sequence of the undulating universe, which did feel as though it was very out-of-the-blue. In some ways, Voyage of Time is similar. This is very much a grand scale exercise in art house cinema, and breathtaking cinematography. Those expecting a detailed narrative backed by scientific evidence should sit down and watch a David Attenborough documentary.
Cinematographer Paul Atkin paints the perfect canvas with Voyage, particularly in the space sequences. Every scene is extraordinary as the next and Atkin and Malick have obviously gone to incredibly gruelling lengths to be able to capture such footage. This whole project is a superb exercise of patience and skill. An ambitious ‘2001’ in 2017.
There are two versions of the film – the IMAX experience version being shorter and more of a commanding documentary with narration by Brad Pitt. Life’s Journey is longer and is more faithful to Malick’s bizarre approach to conventional timelines, like the epic Tree of Life.
Throughout Voyage, we’re also reminded of modern day with some occasional flashes forward in time, as if Malick wants us to marvel at the wonders of creation and life, but be slightly disgusted by the modern man and the trials and tribulations of war. Sometimes the life sequences can be so intense and overwhelming that these present day interruptions also allow you to take a bit of a breather.
Narrated by the ethereal and godlike voice of Cate Blanchett, Voyage of Time is truly poetic and undeniably epic, and it’s been Malick’s passion project since the late ’70s. In fact, there’s even some footage involving the early humans that is apparently from that time.
However, this film is definitely not for everyone. Approach Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey as an arthouse film, as a Terrence Malick film, not as Planet Earth.
Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey is now showing in Kino Svetozor and other local Prague cinemas.