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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Richard Gere
Brooke Adams
Sam Shepard
Linda Manz.
Directors
Terrence Malick.
Screenwriters
Terrence Malick.
Running Time
95 minutes

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Days Of Heaven


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Plot
1916. With the Depression yet a chill on the wind, a drifter Bill, his lover, Abby, and sister, Linda, arrive to work the fields of the Texan Panhandle. There, disguising their relationship as a brother-sister bond, the couple hoodwink a rich but ailing farmer who marries Abby before realising what has happened.


Review

The films of Terrence Malick, only four of them to date over a thirty-year career, are visual poems, testaments to his enflamed passion for natural beauty, but emotionally elusive and reluctant to directly engage the heart. Days Of Heaven, his second film, and his shortest, is a work of furtive gesture, a love-triangle set amongst the miraculous plains of wheat in that stretch beyond vision across the Mid-West.

Tossing out his script, Malick required his cast, led by Richard Gere but dominated by young Linda Manz, the film’s soulful observer (she gives a hauntingly literary narration), to invent their own lines, to feel out the story. It is a story told in small, obtuse movements where even dialogue is reduced to tiny fragments of a holistic whole.

Malick’s is a captivating modus, one so beautiful it almost transcends the simple purposes of film. Over a year of shooting, he coalesced his storyline into his themes, ever-present preoccupations about man’s frailty in the face of nature’s power and God’s indifference to our petty concerns.

The romantic travails of the three leads (a trio filled out by a doleful Sam Shepard and subdued romance of Brooke Adams) and the moral cost that will be meted out, is constantly contrasted with the sun burnished ocean of corn swept by languid breezes; the habitual drift of animals and birds, and the spare existence of these hermit workers flitting across a continent, an itinerant augur of the Depression to come. Rarely has a film bared itself to simple majesty (unless you count Malick’s other work), it feels epic yet runs barely over and hour and a half.

Nothing is ever truly said in Malick’s oblique approach, it is felt, sensed along its dreamlike path. True, if you fail to fall under his spell, it will likely translate as prettified pretension, gaseous, even wanky. But for converts, drugged out on his imagery, by the Biblical surge of its finale, a plague of locusts arriving like damnation, swallowing up the crop as these the heavenly days are consumed by hellfire, this is the towering, unconventional power of a true artist.




Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Days Of Heaven
Empire Star Rating

Days of Heaven

This film will not be for everyone. It could in fact be realising this that is the most important thing you need to know before seeing this film. Ask for the film to convince you and it will deliver in droves. From the simple but perfect use of The Aquarium (from The Carnival of the Animals) over sepia toned photographs in the opening credits to the last frame of ‘magic hour’ cinematography you will be astounded. The former high school football star and Harvard-Oxford educated phi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Master37 at 17:33, 30 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Days Of Heaven

Glad people have enjoyed this film. I would have posted earlier but I did a long review which somehow managed to get lost, and I just didn't have the heart to write it all again.   I will say though that on rewatching Heavent think it's Malick's strongest film (which I still think is n Red Linever I do think it's a beautifully shot and made film which whilst not to everyone's taste, is clearly rooted in Malick's unique style.   My favourite scene is the one with the bonfire o... More

Posted by Spider at 23:23, 19 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Days Of Heaven

L: Tech_Noir As for Kermode, he's obviously missed the film entirely since he was spending so much of his time focusing on the feet of extras. ote] Kermode’s slating of the film wasn’t solely based on humour. He gave a well thought out argument on the film being overly ponderous. And like me he’s a fan of Malick’s earlier work, which I feel makes his opinion more valid than his slating of, for example, the Star Wars prequels, where I knew he wasn’t going to like them with... More

Posted by Axel Foley at 17:37, 11 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Days Of Heaven

L: Tech_Noir Worldfavourite Malick film, there's just something very haunting about that film that gets me every time I think about it. glad somebody else likes this film. I felt it really didn't recieve the recognition it deserved and I know Mallick is partially an aquired taste but I still don't think the critics did it justice. All his films are so brilliant I wouldn't want to draw a favourite but if I had to I'd say Badlands. Not that its especially better than his othe... More

Posted by amateur ghostbuster at 20:19, 08 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Days Of Heaven

L: Axel Foley Malick seems to float of into a world more abstract than I could tolerate, while there's a sense of inauthenticity to ther set up (I think it was Mark Kermode who made the point that the Native American's seem to be wearing moccassins by Gap). I'd say it was his weakest film by some way, though opinion was divided at the time. Worldfavourite Malick film, there's just something very haunting about that film that gets me every time I think about it.   As for K... More

Posted by Tech_Noir at 20:12, 08 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Days Of Heaven

Yes it is indeed a beatiful film. As much a celebration of nature and the fields on which America grew, as a love triangle. When animals are moving across the shot the humans take second place, but they are captured with enough substance though actions alone, for the story to be clear. The voiceover gives events a feeling of nostalgia and reminiscence, though it is is not wholly necessary.   Fpr some reason the stark image of the farmhouse stands out in my mind, even against the swarms... More

Posted by Axel Foley at 19:51, 08 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Days Of Heaven

I posted my review on this other thread...   www.empireonline.com/forum/tm.asp?m=1263506 ... More

Posted by travel_crazy at 17:35, 07 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Days Of Heaven

Just watched this for the Movie Club (so late everytime!). Absolutely beautiful film. Every image is carefully crafted and this is about as close to visual poetry as you'll ever get. The performances are all great, in particular The Farmer and the young girl who gives the voiceover to the film. The relationship between the two main lovers is lovingly handled. Very little dialogue - everything is said with gestures and glances. The locust scene in particular is one of the film's most p... More

Posted by furrybastard at 01:35, 07 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Days Of Heaven

Heaven lm that positively groans under the weight of it's achingly gorgeous images. Director Terence Malick and his cinematographer Nestor Alemendros invest every frame with beautiful, poetic imagery, given voice by the film's youngest character, a teenage migrant worker(Linda Manz). She, her brother(Richard Gere), and his girlfriend(Brooke Adams) go to work on a farm owned by a wealthy but lonely man (Sam Shepard). When the girlfriend marries the farm-owner, they all become rich, an... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Peter A. Quinn at 13:53, 19 April 2006 | Report This Post


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