Trailer Spotlight: Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight of Cups’ starring Christian Bale

I don’t usually post a trailer spotlight so early in the week, but I’ve been waiting for this movie since back in 2011! Knight of Cups was also on my most-anticipated films of 2013, alas it’s Terrence Malick we’re talking about here. But looks like we WILL see this one in 2015 as apparently the film will now open at Berlinale, Berlin Film Festival, next February.

I was already sold on this film when they cast Christian Bale and the incomparable Cate Blanchett. There’s something about Bale’s look in this film that really appeals to me. At the time, all that’s known about the premise is that it’s the story of a man, temptations, celebrity, and excess. Check out the trailer:


Well, per Deadline we’ve not got the full 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?”

I must say I’m quite mesmerized by the trailer. But then again, Malick’s films are always chock full of gorgeous, poetic and evocative imagery. He’s working with his longtime cinematographer Emanuel Lubezki again so we can expect another visual spectacle.

Somehow though, this one doesn’t seem as cryptic as his previous films. The story seems to be a cautionary tale or even just a commentary about the repercussion of hedonistic lifestyle.

“You don’t want love… you want to love… experience.”

“You have love in you… I know it.” 

Of course with Malick, he tends to communicate via metaphors and such, so who really knows how accessible and comprehensible this film is.

With the bass-heavy paired with all kinds of debauchery and decadence in the first half, and later with a more soul-stirring classical style, it’s such a beautifully-cut trailer that I hope the film itself will live up to. As I’m watching it, it made me think that Malick should perhaps do a short film. I think if you take out all the reflective long shots, this story could potentially be told under 20 min. Heck, given his penchant for leaving so much stuff in the cutting room floor, you’d think short films would be his forte.

The cast is pretty eclectic, though some of them are barely featured in the trailer. For sure we’ve got Natalie PortmanJason Clarke and I hear Antonio Banderas‘ voice on there. The rest: Brian Dennehy, Freida Pinto, Wes Bentley, Isabel Lucas, Teresa Palmer, Imogen Poots, Armin Mueller-Stahl and apparently, the voice of Ben Kingsley.

I’ve seen four of Malick’s films so far and I actually like all of them to varying degrees. Even though I didn’t quite comprehend Tree of Life, there are still a lot to like about it and I appreciate Malick’s poetic style. That reminds me, I should rent To The Wonder at some point. So yeah, I guess you could say I’m anticipating this now, even more so than before.


What do you think of this trailer? 

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39 thoughts on “Trailer Spotlight: Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight of Cups’ starring Christian Bale

  1. Once I heard that the film was coming out and the trailer was released, it definitely changed my entire 2015 Anticipated list. And for good reason. To hell with the Star Wars trailer, this is even better and certainly far crazier than I think of Malick’s previous films. I’ll see it.

    1. I’m so with you Steven! I don’t care about the Star Wars trailer at all, but this one really appeals to me. It seems more fast-paced than Malick’s other films, at least according to the trailer.

  2. Ted S.

    Wish I can say I was excited about this movie but it seems Malick is repeating himself here again. I appreciate Tree of Life but To the Wonder was very disappointing to me. I was hoping for this one, he’d turn out a more straight forward storyline like his earlier work such as Badlands, Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line. I hope I’m wrong but I just can’t get excited about this one. Also, this reminds me way too much of Fellini’s 8 1/2. Maybe Malick’s is paying homage to Fellini’s classic, if so then I’m on board.

    1. Y’know, I actually think this trailer seems a bit different than Malick’s previous work. I mean it looks more fast-paced and also less cryptic. I haven’t seen Fellini’s 8-1/2 but I saw the remake Nine by Rob Marshall and it’s meh despite its star-studded cast.

      1. Ted S.

        I’ve never seen Nine, which is a good thing since that movie got so many awful reviews. Apparently it’s a good example of how not to remake a classic.

        From this trailer, it looks very similar to the original 8 1/2, which is not a bad thing since Fellini’s film was great. But knowing Malick’s work, I’m sure it will be something totally different. Again I hope I’m wrong and the actual movie will be good because I’m still a fan of his work and would love to see him back on track again.

  3. I think Knight of Cups could go either way, maybe a groundbreaking masterpiece, or could just be another rehash of the visual ideas from Tree of Life(which I felt his last film To The Wonder was).
    Hopefully a great new film from Malick is in the cards!

    1. I don’t even expect a masterpiece, just something that’s discernible and emotionally-engaging is all I’m hoping for, as for sure the movie will look beautiful!

      1. You’re right, I probably shouldn’t expect a masterpiece. When you do that, you often get disappointed. Moderate expectations is better, and let yourself be surprised.

        Yep, the trailer looks beautiful, and hoping Malick’s cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki(The New World,Tree of Life, To The Wonder) has some new visual ideas in store for us.

  4. Stu

    Hopefully up there with his better work, but like you say the cast is pretty exciting. This reminds me I haven’t watched To The Wonder yet and it has been sitting around at home for ages!

    1. I’ve read polarizing views on To The Wonder but I’m still curious. I feel like Knight of Cups might be Malick’s more um, accessible films? At least that’s the impression I get from the trailer.

  5. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth:

    Malick has a well earned reputation for gathering the best people he can around a project. Excellent high end and talented cast, Like the inclusion of Brian Dennehy and under rated Jason Clarke.

    There had better be a lot more to this film. Because the trailer struck me as an elongated, debauched , superbly edited and tracked, carte blanche budgeted ad for a priced out of reach cologne. Which is one way of advertising a film hinting at the seven deadly sins. Though, perhaps not the best way.

    Good catch with Ted and his suggestion of a Fellini homage!

    1. I think Malick is like Woody Allen, all these actors line up to work for him for I presume less money than they’re used to. I like Jason Clarke too and I do think he’s massively underrated.

      I sure hope the film is gonna have some substance instead of just a poetic visual spectacle.

  6. Malick is a favorite of mine. A filmmaker, a visual artist, whatever you want to call him. “The Tree of Life” was my favorite film of that year and I really, really liked “To the Wonder”. So yep, I’m so excited for this one. Malick is definitely going back to that same style. Sweeping and soothing music, beautiful poetic visuals, and a ton of WATER! But ya know, I love that style!

    As for the trailer, I was pretty captivated by it. As you mention the first half seems to show a man completely lost in a wicked, self-indulgent lifestyle. He even wonders who the man is that he once wanted to be. But then something happens and he seems to see the error of his ways.

    Loved it Ruth!

    1. Hey Keith! I remember you loved To The Wonder and that’s partly why I’m still curious to check that out. I do think he’s a visual artist and a filmmaker who marches to the beat of his own drums which is admirable even if it’s not suited to one’s style. I haven’t hated any of his films, and The Thin Red Line is perhaps my fave war-themed film.

      I like the themes of the film and I sure hope it’s not just a display of excess like Wolf of Wall Street but I think Malick’s style is quite different from Scorsese’s.

    1. Hello hello Queen Mel!! May I welcome you again in my humble little online pod 😉 Yeah I think we’re in agreement that we want something that’s substantially-digestible in a film instead of just a series of gorgeous, contemplative shots. I’m hopeful about this one… so come on Mr. Malick, don’t disappoint us 😀

  7. This trailer looks both nothing like Malick, and yet also PRECISELY like Malick! And I’m kinda looking forward to it as such, though likely for far different reasons than you are, Ruth. 😉

    1. Ahah, I think I know what you mean by that last sentence Chris! 😉 I just hope it’s not another rehash of Wolf of Wall Street in the debauchery scenes.

    1. Hi Julian, long time no *see* 😀 Hmmm, another one who didn’t care for To The Wonder, but I’m still curious enough to check that one out some day.

  8. Never been able to “get” a Terrence Malick film. Wait, that’s not fair, I’ve only seen one – Tree of Life! Still, I didn’t get it. Sure, visually it was a treat. And King of Cups looks no different. But it feels like very much the same sort of angle. Cast looks great, it looks great, but not quite up my alley.

    1. Ted S.

      Jaina, I highly recommend you check out Malick’s earlier work, Badlands and Days of Heaven. They’re more linear storytelling and quite excellent. But I agree that he seems to be repeating himself with the last couple of movies.

    2. Hi Jaina! Tree of Life is very cryptic and mystifying, but I think Days of Heaven and Thin Red Line are both more straightforward, well by Malick’s standard anyway. It’s still got a lot of reflective moments but it’s not as emotionally-distant.

  9. Just saw trailer. Looks amazing. I still haven’t seen To The Wonder. The trailer for that didn’t grab me at all. This looks like something different for him. Finally something contemporary. Hopefully this is a return to form for him.

    1. Hi ya Dave! This trailer has a lot going for it, it definitely looks exciting and intriguing to me. I sure hope I can understand this one more than Tree of Life!

  10. I think the trailer is beautiful, but I agree that Malick ought to make a short film. I think you know my thoughts on The Tree of Life. It’s a gorgeous film no doubt, using imagery and metaphors heavily to tell a story. But for me, the material just isn’t accessible. So if I were to see Knight of Cups, I think I would be very cautioned just because I feel like everything is supposed to be so deep, and yet it feels so unexplained. But hey, that’s my take. I do think the trailer is interesting, so my curiosity is piqued.

    1. Hello Kris! I think he did do a short film a while back but I think he should do more. I think this story could be told as a short film but I guess that takes extreme discipline from a filmmaker. I have high hopes for Knight of Cups, let’s hope it doesn’t disappoint!!

  11. I’ve been anticipating it for a long time as well, and it does look fascinating. Actually, I’ve yet to see a Malick film I haven’t loved, so I hope the film lives up to my lofty expectations. Hope you get a chance to rent To the Wonder before you see this. Be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

    1. Hi Josh! Malick hasn’t always wowed me but I’m still excited to see this based on the cast and intriguing premise. I better watch To The Wonder on Netflix before they yanked it out.

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