Days of Heaven

Days of Heaven ★★★★½

Just an enormous step forward in shot construction and variety from Badlands. Early on in the film, there's a moment when Richard Gere is almost entirely in darkness while Brooke Adams' face is bathed in light. There's no shot like that in Badlands; I almost wonder if the consistency of similar shots in Badlands is intended to achieve some mood, a feeling of an unchanging infinite perhaps? For me though, it was mostly boredom.

Days of Heaven, on the other hand, uses far more (and far better) moving camera, more close ups, more shots at different times of day and during different seasons. My favorites are the ones where Gere's Bill looks directly (or almost directly) into the camera, like a challenge. Sam Shepard's Farmer does this as well. It's almost like we're more in the middle of the conflict than Adams' Abby is at times.

Imagistically, I love how the house is in the background of almost every shot on the farm. It becomes like the eyes of Dr. TJ Eckleburg, seeming to watch over and judge everything happening in the harvest. Yet it dually stands as the only point of reference and of civilization in the vast fields of wheat. Somehow it serves as both a threat and a beacon, not unlike the Farmer himself.

I also really like that Malick separated the Sissy Spacek character from Badlands into two halves here. At times, I found her continued naivety, given what I assumed was going on sexually, to be far-fetched. Here, the young girl and narration is given to Linda Manz' Linda, while Abby explores her sexuality.

What didn't work for me was Gere's face. Not so much his acting, which I liked, but he looks so young and genial here that I found it hard to believe he was a raging, fly off the handle type. I do love when he runs though. It reminds me of the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

Block or Report

Rembrandt Q liked this review