Days of Heaven

Days of Heaven ★★★★½

Nobody's perfect. There was never a perfect person around. You just have half-angel, half-devil in you.

Whenever the pressures of life begin to depress me, I return to the work of one filmmaker and one filmmaker only: Terrence Malick. Last year, after an incredibly stressful week-long nearly 24/7 studying binge, I unwound with Malick's Tree of Life, a film I wasn't terribly keen on the first time around. But something about its whispering monologues and reminder of the extraordinarily grand scope of existence - and, therefore, relative insignificance of the speed-bumps in life - soothed me.

So, given that this week has been a fairly stressful week, I decided to return to my favorite Malick: Days of Heaven. It's an odd pick for my mood, especially given that the film climaxes in a locust infestation and the murder of an unwitting farmer. But, Linda Manz's nonchalant voiceover, a performance that feels like a recounting of a distant memory long decayed to the amber hue of the central plantation's tracts of wheat, and Almendros' muted, earthy-colored compositions always calm me in a way few other films can.

It's among the most gorgeous films ever shot and my first time watching it projected, even if it wasn't on a terribly large screen, was nothing short of spellbinding. The sound-mixing still frustrates me for the first few minutes every re-watch, but as I settle into this achingly gorgeous tale of the fall of an edenic retreat, it's hard not to fall in love with the film over and over again.

This is among the very greatest American films ever made - and perhaps one of the most 'American' films ever made (despite how universal the themes are) - and more broadly, just one of the very best films ever made.

Days of Heaven remains a 5/5 and has now crept up my top 100 to near my top 10.

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