Brow Beat

Terrence Malick Goes to Hollywood in the Trailer for Knight of Cups

Terrence Malick fans have known for a while that Knight of Cups, the next movie from the nowadays-prolific director, would star Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, and Cate Blanchett, and would concern “celebrities and excess.” Now there’s a trailer and, via Deadline, a “synopsis.”

Once there was a young prince whose father, the king of the East, sent him down into Egypt to find a pearl. But when the prince arrived, the people poured him a cup. Drinking it, he forgot he was the son of a king, forgot about the pearl and fell into a deep sleep. Rick’s father used to read this story to him as a boy. The road to the East stretches out before him. Will he set forth?

So the pearl would seem to be some kind of spiritual goal, perhaps, while the cup the people pour him is fame and/or worldly success? Maybe? Also presumably pertinent: the “Knight of Cups” is a tarot card, and, according to tarot guides, “the Knight of Cups brings a warning about getting too caught up in fantasy and the romanticism of life. Fantasy excites but it lacks any real meaning as you deny your basic commitment to the world and your imagination produces nothing.”

So thematically speaking, this sounds like familiar territory for Malick, except that he has turned his attention to the entertainment industry for the first time—perhaps extending this autobiographical stage in his career. And so we get images in the trailer that are unusual for him: druggy dance parties, bars that could be at strip clubs, photo shoots full of models. (Knight of Cups was shot by frequent Malick partner Emanuel Lubezki.) Then there are shots, particularly those on the beach, that look right out of To the Wonder—and the rotating cast of attractive women surrounding the leading man also recall that movie—as well as a few reminiscent of Tree of Life.

Knight of Cups will premiere at the Berlin Film Festival and presumably reach American theaters some time in 2015.