A few days ago, I watched Knight of Cups, a star-studded movie by Terrence Malick. Read my first impression review of it and check out the Wikipedia and IMDB pages about it for more detailed information.
Somewhere in California
Knight of Cups starts out with the scene of a man, played by Christian Bale, in what is presumably the California desert, near a highway.
Then a British voice begins to recite “the Pilgrim’s Progress“:
“… As I slept, I dreamed a dream…” as the Earth rotates from an orbital POV (the International Space Station (ISS)), and passes a green light, the Aurora Borealis, that glows in the atmosphere.
So It Begins
The Earth rotates over bright cities at night and finally comes back to the green light, which is when Bale’s voice makes the following bold and not-so-bold statement before cutting to a car POV emerging from a curved tunnel:
“All those years, living the life of someone I didn’t even know.”
Man with child on beach in vintage color. Then children and dog in backyard fish eye lens. That’s when we hear Brian Dennehy’s voice ask:
“Remember the story I used to tell you when you were a boy, about a young prince, a knight, sent by his father, the king of the east, west into Egypt. To find a pearl. A pearl from the depths of the sea. But when the prince arrived, the people poured him a cup that took away his memory. He forgot he was the son of the King. He forgot about the pearl. And fell into a deep sleep.”
Little Boy Lost
We see Bale’s character Rick at a party, where he’s partying. Then Brian Dennehy finishes:
“The king didn’t forget his son. He continued to send word. Messengers. Guides. But the prince slept on.”
And then there was an earthquake in California.
The story within the story is the underlying metaphor of Knight of Cups. While I liked the movie overall, it left me with a bland feeling. In this essay about it, I go into more detail.
The Knight of Cups is an experimental film according to Wikipedia, but I think the experiment failed. The filmmakers’ have attempted to mix visual narrative with anecdotal voiceovers. The result is weak dialogue, mediocre acting and imagery that invokes rather than impacts.
Should You Watch Knight of Cups?
It’s worth a watch for sure. When you’re done watching, read my essay about Knight of Cups. Or read the essay first. Doesn’t matter. Works either way.
Three out of five stars. One thumb’s up, one thumb’s down. 60 percent rotten? I haven’t figured out a rating system yet.