"It's not far....it's within reach": Terrence Malick and the Search for Wholeness of the American Adam
MetadataShow full item record
As a body of work the films of American director Terrence Malick reveal an difficulty in finding wholeness in a culture that was originally perceived by some of its founders to be a new Promised Land. Malick’s films are characterized by a yearning for wholeness, as his protagonists always seek for a harmonious relationship with nature, and try to find the good within and around themselves. This yearning is definitely not something new, for it has defined the American experience and character ever since the discovery of the New World. It was the idea of a new Garden of Eden that attracted many Europeans to America, and it quickly developed into the myth of the American Adam. This myth was mainly expressed through American literature. This thesis is an attempt to analyze Malick’s treatment of the Adamic Adam, and his search for wholeness, in relation to the work of Melville and Whitman. This thesis shows that Malick’s cinema moves from a tragic, Melvillian treatment of the American Adam to an optimistic, Whitmanesque conception of the American Adam. If films are poetry, and Malick films are, then his films articulate a certain poetry of nature, a meditation on the place of human beings in this world and our relationship with nature. Malick’s poetic cinema let us experience the Edenic yearning almost perfectly.