(1978, USA, 94')
Chicago, 1916. Bill is a foundry worker. After a fight with his boss, he leaves for good and heads West with sister Linda and girlfriend Abby. The three arrive to the Texas Panhandle, where they are hired as day labourers for harvest season. Once Bill finds out that the farmer is smitten with Abby as well as seriously ill, he pretends that Abby is the sister, and pushes Abby to seduce the farmer. Things don’t go as planned, for Nature has her way to overcome puny human intensions, and the story takes on Bible-inspired vengeance undertones.
The second feature by Texan filmmaker Terrence Malick, and the endowed a Major-worthy budget, is another step forward in the making of his poetics. Originally filmed in 35mm, then blown up to 70 to fit six sound channels, the picture is an absolute visual poem. Malick instructed his cinematographer Néstor Almendros (later awarded an Oscar) to use only natural light at golden hour, taking inspiration from paintings by Edward Hopper and Georges de La Tour. A counterpoint to the images is Ennio Morricone’s amazing score.
Days of Heaven won the Best Direction Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1979. It was not commercially successful, hence Malick’s twenty-year hiatus, exacerbated by the failure of the ambitious project he was working on: Q (Qasida).
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