A documentary that skirts its subject in more ways than one, “Rosy-Fingered Dawn: A Film on Terrence Malick” assembles a formidable army of witnesses who offer testimony on the director, but contains not a single image of the reclusive, notoriously camera-shy Malick himself. Italo filmmakers from the cooperative Citrullo Intl. awkwardly fill the gap with fancily edited footage they’ve shot in America; none of it has much relevance to the film’s subject, but it may interest Italian audiences who like glimpses of TV Americana. A more focused editing job is needed to put the 22 English-language interviews containing much pertinent material into perspective. As is, doc is mainly a source of archive material.
Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek talk about acting in “Badlands,” Malick’s first film, in terms of the clear, precise imagery he used to direct them. “We could see his vision,” says Sheen. Sam Shepard articulately probes the deeper resonances of “Days of Heaven,” while a host of actors and technicians including Sean Penn, John Savage, Jim Caviezel, Elias Koteas and Ben Chaplin talk about their experiences working on “The Thin Red Line.”