Terrence Malick is following his semi-autobiographical turn in The Tree of Life with another film based on his own life experiences. Malick, like Ben Affleck's character of "Neil", had a romance with a woman in France in the 80s named Michèle Morette (like Kurylenko's character of "Marina"), married her in 1985 and then moved back to Texas with her. They divorced in 1998, however, and Malick reconnected with Alexandra "Ecky" Wallace, a former high school sweetheart (like McAdams' "Jane") from his days at St. Stephen's school in Austin, Texas.
With this film's release in 2012 and The Tree of Life (2011) being released in 2011, this is the shortest time gap between movies for director Terrence Malick, the gap being only a year. Malick is famous for waiting years between projects. His shortest time gap between films previously was five years, between Badlands (1973) and Days of Heaven (1978). His longest was 20 years, between Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line (1998).
Many of Malick's longtime collaborators returned for To the Wonder, including Jack Fisk (production design), Emmanuel Lubezki (cinematography), Sarah Green (producer), Jacqueline West (costume design), and David Crank (art direction).
There was no script that was used during filming. Terrence Malick would give the actors pages of thoughts and independent lines every morning and he would ask them to play the emotions without speaking, just with their body.
Multiple sources, including The Los Angeles Times, reported that the film was shot under the title "The Burial" after a listing for the film was discovered under that name on a French film database website. However, producer Sarah Green stated, "It is not called 'The Burial'. We don't know what 'The Burial' is. Somebody else attached that name, but there is no movie that we're working on called 'The Burial.'"
In an interview, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki described To the Wonder as "abstract," adding that the film is "less tied to theatrical conventions and more purely cinematic than any prior film Terry has made".
Father Quintana's prayer which goes like this "Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me..." is taken from a prayer by Saint Patrick called Lorica of Saint Patrick, or Saint Patrick's Breastplate.
According to Olga Kurylenko, her character was originally much more dark and unstable. Kurylenko claimed to have shot scenes where Marina was really depressed and huge fights with Ben Affleck, showing how moody she was.