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Knight Of Cups by Hanan Townshend (Review)

posted Apr 13, 2016, 2:30 PM by Kaya Savas

Knight Of Cups continues the collaboration between Terrence Malick and Hanan Townshend, and this lasting collaboration seems to be because Malick has finally found a composer in Hanan that fits perfectly with his style of filmmaking. Hanan is a supremely talented composer who brings no ego or expectations to his work with Terry. The result is a mosaic of original score meshed with classical pieces that mold together to form a flowing emotional journey that amplifies Malick’s poetic vision.

Knight Of Cups definitely has more focus than Malick's last film, To The Wonder. While the film will be hard to grasp for most viewers, it is probably his most structured film since The New World. A wandering Hollywood icon moves through his surroundings and experiences moments of temptation and luxury juxtaposed with the real people in his life. The chapters of the film are named after Tarot cards, and structured to present a journey. The music is used rather simply here to build an emotional flow. I would say this is Malick’s most heavy use of classical pieces where the most used motif becomes Kilar’s Exodus. Townshend’s score becomes the connective tissue within the film, but also has a life of its own outside it. His water theme is beautiful, and it contributes to that idea of a flowing journey. The album presentation here is a very great representation of how Malick utilizes music as a quilt in the film, with pieces stitched together to form a unified piece. I personally felt that To The Wonder’s score was a much stronger effort, but only because it had more of a presence in the film. Hanan Townshend does not write to picture for Malick, so the music you hear is birthed from conversations with Malick and the central ideas of what the film is. The end result is nothing short of another amazingly absorbing emotional journey, even if the original score was a bit underutilized.

Knight Of Cups is another fantastic effort from Hanan Townshend as he continues one of the most unique director collaborations in the industry. All he did was answer a generic ad requesting a composer, and now he finds himself working with one of the great auteur directors of our time. Malick’s style is not for everybody, but if you embrace what the director is trying to do instead of argue it, you might find the film along with its music resonating deeply. Hanan has crafted the musical equivalent of a spiritual journey to enlightenment that works with the classical pieces that Malick has placed in the film. You can also isolate Hanan’s tracks and experience a more focused and subtle character journey on their own. But as a whole in the film, it’s another strong Malick/Townshend musical journey that leaves a lasting mark.