The filmmaker’s camera always seems to move towards the light.

Terrence Malick isn’t really a down-to-earth guy. That’s not his capacity as a director, nor as a human. He’s decided to embrace the poetry of life in all its forms, which sometimes means his films can feel a little bit flighty. Other times, they are sublime. Almost always, they head upwards.

His camera gazes at the sun, looking for God among the heavens like his characters do down on terra firma. A gentle meander towards the holiest heights makes every shot a yearning evocation of the otherworldly.

Martin Kessler’s video essay tracks these shots with patience and interest, contextualizing a trend that is one of many directorial tics from the auteur. Understanding Malick is impossible, but finding meaning in his work is an individualized task that couldn’t be easier.

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