The Thinking Machine #70

Tree of Ants

Phase IV

In their series The Thinking Machine, critics Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin create a new video essay for Filmkrant every month.

Can we imagine Terrence Malick making a science fiction film? Perhaps a remake of Phase IV (1974), design genius Saul Bass’ only attempt at directing a feature narrative, which recounts the takeover of the human race by ants? The distance between Malick and the sci-fi cinema of the 1960s and ‘70s is, in fact, not so far: 2001, Silent Running and others from that time explicitly aimed for a sublime aesthetic and a transcendental, post-human destiny. So let us cross, in our minds, memories of Days of Heaven and The Tree of Life with certain genre tropes…