A blog dealing with either the joy of cinema or the agony of cinema--nothing in between.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Days of Heaven
Terrence Malick's career as a director spans almost 40 years during which he has made a mere five films (which includes the upcoming Tree of Life). Yet, due to the sheer and unmatched visual beauty of his films, he has cemented his name as one of the great directors and his 1978 film Days of Heaven is the epitome of his work. The story involves Chicago steelworker Bill (Richard Gere) who has just inadvertently killed his supervisor and flees south with his kid sister and his girlfriend, who he passes of as his sister. Upon reaching the Texas panhandle, they find arduous work in the wheat fields of a rich farmer who takes a liking to Bill's girlfriend. When he proposes marriage, and after Bill learns of his terminal illness, he encourages the union which leads to a love triangle destined to end in tragedy. Days of Heaven is almost biblical in scope, with panoramic shots, and scenes filled with locusts and conflagrations. It contains some of the most beautiful visuals ever committed to film, which act as its own character and mute the still engaging story. The hypnotic tone is further given weight by the young girl's eerie narration and great composer Ennio Morricone's score. The camera work is that of Spanish cinematographer Nestor Almendros (as well as the great Haskell Wexler who had to replace him due to scheduling conflicts) who won an Oscar for his work and goes through great lengths in his autobiography A Man with his Camera to demonstrate what went into this sumptuous film. Malick, who has a background in philosophy, together with Almendros crafted an arresting film whose visual beauty speaks louder than its story, and still leaves us too enthralled to mind.