Runtime: 1 Hour
and 33 Minutes
When I think of "Days of Heaven" (and I will think of it)
I will think of the way that the wind rustles through the wheat fields,
almost as if the crops had a tide to them. I will think of the way
that the light slants through the thunderclouds as they gather over
the Oklahoma grainfields, creating a quality of light that is just
gorgeous to behold. I will think of the way that a cloud of locusts
moves over the dying embers of twilight like a horrible cloud.
I will think of the imagery, because that is the main reason for watching
this movie. The plot is really nothing special (at all). The dialogue
is there only to advance the plot. And I mean only.
There is not one line of dialogue that does not further the plot,
because there is no other dialogue. This isn't a silent movie, but
it might just as well have been. It doesn't have a lot more talking
in it than your average Buster Keaton film. And some of the lines
don't even try to make it sound like they are doing anything more
than just getting the movie from one beautiful shot to another.
But the shots are beautiful. In fact, this is the most gorgeous movie
I have ever beheld, and I have watched a lot of movies. The way that
the rancher's house sits in the middle of the fields, the otherwise
unbroken fields, like a castle sitting in a sea of grain. The way
that Richard Gere moves through a thicket to elude the authorities.
The sight of wagons of people moving through an arch that is just
sitting there on the prairie, as timeless and iconic as the Sphinx
sitting in the midst of the desert.
These images will be in my mind forever, I am sure of it.
Terrence Malick's second foray into the world of film is one of the
most highly regarded films of all time. Wondering what all the fuss
was about, I decided to check it out.
This film deserves every ounce of praise it gets. It is the sort of
film that, plain and simple, they don't make anymore. Whatever happened
to films that had, on the surface, a fairly simple story, while retaining
a raging torrent of activity beneath said surface?
Maybe "Days of Heaven" put an end to those films. Maybe every
other filmmaker knew that they could never create a film of such exquisite
beauty and purpose. Knowing this they chose not to even try anymore.
Bill (Richard Gere) and Abby (Brooke Adams) have fled from Chicago for
the tranquility of Texas. They find work at the farm of a lonely, but
rich farmer played by Sam Shepard. Bill and Abby pretend to be brother
and sister, but their act is so thin, that some of their coworkers question
the validity of this relationship. During this period, the farmer has
grown quite fond of Abby and chooses to pursue her. Eventually Bill
overhears of the farmer having only a year to live and tells Abby that
she should marry the farmer, as it would be to their benefit once he
The ceremony takes place, but it doesn't take long for the farmer to
become suspicious of the nature of Bill and Abby's relationship. Jealousy
runs rampant between the two men, especially as time goes by and the
farmer shows no signs of ill health.
As was the case in "Badlands,"
Terrence Malick so masterfully creates the world of "Days of Heaven"
that you genuinely care about those involved within the first ten minutes
of the film.
Few films accomplish this feat within a half hour, let alone ten minutes.
All the elements one would expect of a Malick film are present. The
performances are wonderful. The narrative is present, in the form of
a young girl by the name of Linda (Linda Manz). The visual splendor
is in full force, as the wheat fields of Texas come to life before your
very eyes. Where most directors attempt to change the look and feel
of nature through film, Malick exploits the natural wonder that surrounds
us despite our recognition. He treats nature as an asset rather than
a liability. A lesson that more directors need to learn it would seem,
given the fluff we are dealt nowadays.
So I guess what I am trying to say is, if you want to see what a truly
wonderful and captivating experience a film can be, check out "Days
of Heaven." If not, then I guess you will never know what you're
missing out on. That could be a good, or bad thing depending on your
perspective I suppose.....