NOTE: this is a film by Terrence Malick, from 1976. The girl speaking is our narrator; she’s 16 years old and made a fair amount of it up on the spot whilst watching the footage back. Just wow. And for me, the penultimate speech here (“Nobody’s perfect…”) is one of the greatest you’ll ever read/hear.
Me and my brother; it just used to be me and my brother. We used to do things together. We used to have fun. We used to roam the streets; there was people suffering with pain and hunger. Some people, their tongues were hangin’ outta their mouths. … he used to juggle apples. He use- he used to amuse us, he used to entertain us. (what else have I gotta do today?) In fact, all three of us’d been goin’ places – lookin’ for things, searching for things. Going on adventures. They told everybody they were brother and sister. My brother didn’t want nobody to know. You know how people are. You tell ‘em something, they start talking. I met this guy named Ding Dong. He told me the whole world is going up in flames. Flames will come out of here and there, and they’ll just rise up. The mountains are gonna go up in big flames. The water’s gonna rise in flames. There’s gonna be creatures runnin’, um, every which way – some of them burnt, half their wings burning. People are gonna be screamin’ and hollerin’ for help. See – the people that’ve been good, they’re gonna go to Heaven and eckscape all that fire. But if you’ve been bad, God don’t even hear ya, he don’t even hear ya talkin’.
The farmer didn’t know when he first saw her; or what it was about her that caught his eye. Maybe it was the way the wind blew through her hair.
He knew he was gonna die. He knew there was nothing there could be done. You only live on this earth once. And up to my opinion, as long as you’re around you should have it nice.
From the time the sun went up, till when it went down, they were workin’ all the time. No- non-stop. Just keep going. You didn’t work, they’d ship you right outta there. They don’t need ya, They can always get somebody else.
This farmer: he had a big spread and a lot of money. Whoever was sittin’ in the chair when he’d come around, why’d they stand up and give it to him? Wasn’t no harm in him. You’d give him a flower, he’d keep it forever. He was headin’ for the boneyard any minute, but he wasn’t really sq- goin’ around squawking about it… like some people. In one way I felt sorry for him, because he had nobody to – stand out for him. Be by his side. Hold his hand when he needs attention or something. That’s touchin’.
He was tired of livin’ like the rest of ‘em, nosin’ around like a pig in a gutter. He wasn’t in the mood no more. He figured there must be something wrong with him, the way they always got no luck; and they oughta get it straightened out. He figured some people need more than they got, other people got more than they need. Just a matter of getting us all together.
I’ve been thinkin’ what to do with my future. I could be a mud doctor. Checking out the earth underneath.
We’ve never been this rich, all right? I mean, we were just – all of a sudden living like kings. Just nothin’ to do all day but crack jokes and lay around. We didn’t have to work. I’m tellin’ you, the rich got it figured out.
I got to like this farm. Do anything I want. Roll in the fields. Talk to the wheat patches. When I was sleeping, they’d talk to me. They’d go in my dreams.
Nobody sent us letters. We didn’t receive no cards. Sometimes I feel very old, like my whole life’s over. Like I’m not around no more.
Instead of getting sicker, he just stayed the same. He didn’t get sicker. He didn’t get better. They were kind-hearted and thought he was goin’ out on his own steam. I dunno, the doc must’ve come over, or someone gave him something. Probably some kinda medicine or something. I coulda just taken it and put it in a ditch. Like they do to a horse: they shoot him right away.
Just when things were about to blow, this flyin’ circus come in. After six months on this patch, I needed a breath of fresh air. They were screamin’ and yellin’ and bopping each other though. He- the big one pushed the little one said ‘C’mon, I started, you start.’ The little one started in. If they couldn’t think of a good one to come back with they’d stop fighting. The little one said ‘No, I didn’t do this’; the big one said ‘Yes, you did do this.’ They couldn’t sort it out. The devil just sittin’ there laughin’. He’s glad when people does bad. Them he sends ‘em to the snake house. He just sits there and laughs and watch while you’re sittin’ there all tied up and snakes are eatin’ your eyes out. They go down your throat and eat all your systems out. I think the devil was on the farm.
He’d seen how it all was. She loves the farmer. He taught me keys on the pianos and notes. He taught me about parts of the globe.
Nobody’s perfect. There was never a perfect person around. You just got half devil and half angel in you. She promised herself she’d lead a good life from now on. She blamed it all on herself. (It’s good. I like it.) She didn’t care if she was happy or not. She just wanted to make up for what she did wrong. The sun looks ghostly when there’s a mist on the river and everything’s quiet. I never knowed it before. And you could see people on the shore but it was far off and you couldn’t see what they were doing. They were probably calling for help or something, or they were trying to bury somebody or something. We seen trees and the leaves are shaking and it looks like shadows of guys comin’ at you and stuff. We heard owls squawkin’ away, ooming away. We didn’t know where we were goin’, what we were gonna do. I’ve never been on a boat before. That was the first time. Some sights that I saw was really spooky that it gave me goose pimples. And I felt like cold hands touching the back of my neck. And it could be the dead comin’ for me or somethin’. I remember this guy, his name was Blackjack. He died. He only had one leg, and he died. And I think that was Blackjack making those noises.
This girl – she didn’t know where she was going or what she was gonna do. She didn’t have no money on her. Maybe she’d meet up with a character. I was hoping things would work out for her. She was a good friend of mine.