"I haven’t lived in Oklahoma in about ten years, but I visit yearly to see family. The annual drive down, now familiar, has endeared me to the area: once I was no longer forced to live there, it became nostalgic—and once it became nostalgic, I could find a way to love it. The landscape has remained essentially the same, aside from a few new convenience stores, but, as the years go by, I’ve started to notice the beauty in that wide expanse of sky, those deserted stretches of highway, all the small towns in Southern Oklahoma where the bait shops sell the coldest beer in town along with miniature bibles on key chains.
To the Wonder shows Oklahoma in the ways I’ve learned to see it in the decade since I’ve left—beautiful, expansive, and empty. The sky in Oklahoma is enormous, the fields endless, the lawns moist and green. Malick shot the film’s Oklahoma scenes in Bartlesville, a town north of Tulsa, and manages to make the treeless lots of manufactured homes look somehow both tragic and elegant. While France is filmed largely in the rain—all greys and blues—Oklahoma is full of bright sunshine, grass, and fiery sunsets. The empty spaces become almost overwhelming, like a constant open-air cathedral.”
—Letitia Trent on Terence Malick’s To the Wonder: