Gorgeous cinematography coupled with an engaging score and Malick's signature realism makes for a visual treat. It's more of a living portrait than a simple cohesive narrative. There's also biblical allegory undertones that make the whole thing ripe for dissection.
This movie has a lot of beautiful scenery and a great story of scandal and betrayal during hard times.
"Sometimes I'd feel very old, like my whole life is over, like I'm not around no more".
'Days of Heaven' is a mesmerizing film that captures the beauty and calm activities in life, while having this unexplained sadness underneath. At the end, you learn that memories, good or bad, will occasionally haunt your thoughts and emotional state - since the film is about someone reflecting on their memory.
My relationship with Terrence Malick can be complicated, but when he scores, it's remarkable.
One of the highest forms of art.
There is something that marks the films of Terrence Malick apart from the rest of cinema, but articulating exactly what that is is difficult. Is it their dreamy, impressionistic quality? Is it the rambling, poetic voiceovers? Is it the sense of the universal, the gnosis that simmers behind every glance, every turn of the head?
Malick's practice of shooting during the 'golden hour' has become meme-like in its repetition, but the results are ravishing in an almost painterly way, giving the scenes on the farm and in the fields a luminosity that is rarely encountered. It's a well-worn cliché that there are some films where any shot could hang on a wall but Days of Heaven unabashedly qualifies. It's a supremely visual film and it's clear that great care has been taken throughout to make it a thing of beauty.
The plot is basic, perhaps too basic, but the film's power lies in being so absorbing that it doesn't matter. We don't hear the confrontation that leads Richard Gere's character to flee Chicago with his sister and girlfriend in tow; it hardly matters. What matters far more is the sight of the molten metal pouring, the people washing their clothes in the filthy water, the plumes of smoke rising in the distance. The feel of a place is more immediate and vital than what is going on in it.
This isn't to suggest that the performances are lacking or that there isn't a sense of forward momentum. It takes its time but there is a sense of tension in the group's scheme, punctuated as it is by the surreal. Shepard, particularly, manages to imbue the Farmer with an intense melancholy, a man who stands to lose everything but chooses to go on living regardless, only to lose it all anyway. Special mention must go too to Linda Manz, whose childish narration belies the poetry of her rhythmic narration. It ties the visuals together beautifully, anchoring them and keeping them from drifting away from the humanity of the people affected by Bill's selfishness and scheming.
It's an almost overwhelming experience, a complete and masterful work of art by people with a unique unity of purpose and vision. There aren't many films like Days of Heaven—more's the pity.