*While this experience was created for VR, I do not own a VR headset. So this review is for the non-VR version found on Youtube through the Framestore channel*
Terrence Malick has become a divisive figure in the realm of film-making. While his earlier films were universally praised, his later and more recent works have been heavily criticized. And with each new film release it seems like the backlash is getting heavier. While Malick has been moving in the same direction his entire career, it has simply become too much for some people. While I personally love all of Malick’s works, I do not love them equally. When it comes to this particular piece (which Malick created alongside Movement Art Is and Facebook), the previous sentence rings true.
I love this piece. I think it is a beautiful piece of dance and film-making intertwining and creating something I have never experienced before. Like all of Malick’s previous works, Together is about the human soul – its nature, its substance. We are all connected in some way and that is a powerful thing. Together’s use of physical communication is a proper reflection of non-verbal communication between all people. On a base level, we are all the same. And that connection is felt in Together.
The music in this piece is fantastic and the emotional beats perfectly tie into what is happening visually. Powerful string arrangements guide the emotional experience while percussion acts as a driving force behind that emotion. The piano glides between the visual transitions seamlessly as it provides a sense of tension to what is happening.
This piece is also home to several Malick-isms. By nature of the focus on dance, you have a focus on human movement and a focus on bodies moving through physical spaces. In the background there are projections of large bodies of water, trees, the sky, grass blowing in the wind, birds flying, buildings and people. In Malick’s view, we are all one with nature. Nature is not a THING; we all exist in a STATE of nature. There is connection between all living things. There is a purity to nature that is beautiful and life-affirming.
At one point in the piece, there is a projection of several hands being cleaned with water and moments later we see children bathing in a body of water. Malick’s use of water has always been captivating to me. For me, it represents the most absolute form of purity. We evolved from the water and we always make our way to the water. Water is a necessity for human life. But not just human life. All living things require water in one way or another to exist. And so water is the source of everything. Water connects all living things. It is a symbol of wholeness.
The piece ends with a beautiful moment of connection along with a realization that we exist within something that is greater than us all. The dancers find themselves among the stars. The universe is our home.
Together is a stunning piece of dance and film-making by Movement Art Is and Terrence Malick. It is a life-affirming and emotionally devastating piece about human connection and our place in the world (and within the universe at large). Malick has already proven himself to be a master philosopher and visual artist and this piece only re-confirms that status. To anyone willing to open up their hearts and minds, there is treasure to be found here. Just as there is treasure to be found in the powers of human connection.
“Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.” – Mrs. O’Brien, The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick
8/10 – Great