Tellingly, before Malick’s involvement with film, he studied and subsequently taught Philosophy: it is this sensibility that so wonderfully imbues all his work with a poetical lyricism. Without overstatement or exaggeration, Malick’s films are without a doubt masterpieces.
Heavily featuring character narration, which, rather than guiding the viewer is simply used to offer an insight into the thoughts of the character; often these fragmented thoughts are philosophical in nature, depicting characters that are searching for reason.
In the same year that Saving Private Ryan was released, Malick released his own World War Two film, The Thin Red Line. Malick’s work, despite featuring the same historical context as Spielberg’s film, could not be further removed from its counterpart. Saving Private Ryan, whilst undoubtedly a fine film, seems boorish and overblown in comparison to Malick’s profound work.
Malick commits to celluloid some of the most beautiful cinematography you are likely to ever see, dwelling both on nature and the nature of man. Malick, despite the relative sparseness of his work (with only five films made), is one of the finest auteurs in existence.