Friday, January 28, 2011

Days of Heaven

Days of Heaven; drama, USA, 1978; D: Terrence Malick, S: Brooke Adams, Richard Gere, Sam Shepard, Linda Manz

America during World War I. Bill lives in dirty Chicago and works in a steel factory. After an argument with his boss, he boards a train for Texas with his girlfriend Abby and sister Linda. The three of them settle at a farm where they harvest wheat the whole day. Bill finds out that the young farm owner is sick and in love with Abby. Since he introduced her as his sister, Bill persuades her to marry the owner. Bill expects the owner will soon die and inherit all to them, but as months pass he is getting healthier by the minute. After returning from absence, Bill kisses Abby and kills the owner. Bill is killed by the police in the run, while Abby and Linda move out.

"Days of Heaven", the second feature length film by Terrence Malick, who after it 'resigned' from directing for 20 years, is another meditative drama without a clear-cohesive structure of the sensitive author, showing a love triangle and adding some small touches of critique of class difference. Malick and his amazing cinematographer craft the film in a poetic way, though some parts of it are rather overstretched: there's a shot of the wind scratching the surface of water, a shot of Abby chasing a peacock and then a shot of clouds over the farm. Mostly, such a technique works thanks to a great sense for shot composition, but here and there it seems as if the authors just wanted to add 'pretty images' in it, which makes it slightly eclectic and episodic. The relationships between the protagonists where created almost without words, whereas Malick threw a few period descriptions and an open ending, Richard Gere delivered one of his finest performances whereas the best ingredient is magical music by Ennio Morricone. Malick won best director award at the Cannes film festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe while the music won a BAFTA.


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