Music editor Lee Scott recently chatted with fansite All Things Shining (reprinted at Soundtrack.net), and talked about his work on the movie, which amounted to seven months of the lengthy production. "When I started the film in June, 1998, the three picture editors and the director Terrence Malick had already been cutting the film for about eight months," he shares. As he recounts, there was a massive amount of material to wrangle, with "five types of music in the film" but it seems no idea was too...inconceivable...to at least address.
"One day Michael Jackson came to a scoring session at Fox to meet with Malick. He was offering to write a song for the film!" Scott says. And while that meeting must have been fascinating, obviously, nothing came of it. But one can be left wondering what on Earth they chatted about.
Meanwhile, Scott also shares some fascinating insight into the finished film, offering that he doubts Malick was satisfied with the finished result, while revealing some of the material he saw that never made it to the final cut:
I just remember that there were a lot of beautiful shots but not enough room in the film for them. There were a lot more shots of nature, animals and insects. I think there were more scenes in the ship before the soldiers land.
I remember a scene after they land and a camp and a soldier exploring the jungle, looking at insects. There was a long fifteen plus minute section of [charter Private Whit] traveling to another island.
In the middle of the film a group of soldiers try to take a hill three times. It was cut down to two attempts. Scenes with Adrien Brody kept getting cut down to where I think he has only one line in the film. I think [editor Billy Weber] and Malick wanted to cut the scene with George Clooney, but there were already trailers out with him in it and Malick didn't want to slight Clooney.
Of course, Adrien Brody getting essentially removed from the movie is well known by now, but nonetheless it's interesting to again see how the film evolved during its lenghthy and arduous prost-production. It's a pretty fascinating conversation, and one that offers another window into the secretive world of Malick's productions, where his team are usually very protective of the director and his method. Give it a read at the link above.