Film Arts Committee presents the films of Terrence Malik


Natalie Vredevoogd

Film Arts Committee is a student-led organization.

Film Arts Committee is currently in the midst of their fall 2019 film series, inviting students to explore the films of Terrence Malik. 

In a time where films can easily be streamed and consumed entirely online, the student-led Film Arts Committee exists to introduce students to films that fall outside the mainstream. This fall, the committee has chosen to focus on the filmography of Terrance Malik. They are currently in the middle of a series of four films that will introduce students to the body of his work, chronologically viewing the highlights of his film career. This is in preparation for the release of his latest film, “A Hidden Life,” which will be premiering in Grand Rapids in January. 

FAC president Garrett Strpko says that this fall’s thematic film series aims to be different than past years, choosing to focus on one director. “The goal [of the committee] is to help create a community that thinks a lot about film.” In this way, he says that Malik’s work was a natural choice. By focusing on a specific director, Strpko hopes that students will be exposed to a unique style of filmmaking, following Malik’s artistic journey before viewing his latest work. 

Originally a philosopher, Terrence Malik approaches filmmaking differently than most popular filmmakers. “Most people approach film as an entertainment medium, which is fair. Usually you don’t really approach it from the perspective of asking philosophical questions and Malik films do that very well, not just in their content but in how they are constructed,” says Strpko. He specifically deals with hard hitting issues such as suffering and the nature of evil, topics that Strpko feels are particularly relevant for Christian audiences to consider. 

“Days of Heaven” was the first film shown in the series, followed only a few weeks ago by one of Malik’s most popular films, “The Thin Red Line.” This film — a war drama released in 1998 — deals with some of Malik’s recurring themes in the most conventional way. Malik asks pressing questions about the nature of war throughout the film comparing the wars that humanity engages in with what the film calls “the war in the heart of nature.” 

The Film Arts Committee will show their next Malik film on Nov. 16th in the Bytwerk Theater. The third of the four-film series, “The New World,” is a reworking of the classic story of Pocohantas and John Smith. In his usual style, Malik looks differently at the story than other films have, exploring his questions on the nature of evil while telling an epic love story. After “The New World,” Malik’s film, “The Tree of Life,” will be shown on Dec. 7th. The film will be introduced by English professor Jeniffer Holberg, and there will be a panel discussion with several Calvin professors after the showing. 

According to Natalie Vredevoogd, treasurer for the FAC, “It’s a unique opportunity that we’re screening these films one after the other.” Vredevoogd hopes that this will help students understand film in a different way by seeing how one director can use his own style to explore and develop ideas. 

“A Hidden Life” will premier in Grand Rapids in January. The film tells the story of a conscientious objector in Austria during the Second World War. 


Garrett Strpko is the Arts & Entertainment editor of Chimes. He had no role in writing, reviewing, or editing this story.