Days of Heaven

Days of Heaven ★★★★★

This is one of my favourite movies that just feels really difficult to explain why I love it so much. I'd relate this to a similar feeling I have with McCABE & MRS. MILLER, which also happens to be a fleeting meditation on morality at the turn of 20th century America. It's almost ineffective to review these films at all as converting the meaning of poetic cinema into words feels almost insulting. Nevertheless, again like McCABE, DAYS OF HEAVEN puts me in a calm daze until the second half of the picture where I realize how tragic everything is. Apparently Malick abandoned most of the dialogue in editing and it shows as DAYS OF HEAVEN is an episodic, almost slice of life picture with more shots that showcase the majesty of the natural world of the Texas panhandle than characters interacting. Malick's obsession with these idyllic landscapes almost puts the central love triangle in the background, making it feel almost cold and distant. I mean this as a compliment though as the world feels more important to the film's tragedy than the characters, except for Linda, which leads to arguably my favourite element of the film.

This is pretty much the only case where the Malick voice over works for me. The innocent anecdotes by Linda Manz remind us that DAYS OF HEAVEN is just as much if not more about her than it is about the adults in the story. She undergoes a loss of innocence only not through any significant changes she makes but through the world and the actions of the adults around her that are out of her control. This makes the film's final scene so bitter sweet to me. I hope Linda made new friends and made the most of her teen years because those chapters of our lives come and go quicker than we think. Ultimately that is where the tragedy is punctuated to me. The soft textures of the twilight cinematography, the changing seasons, the farmer's presumed death, and so much more communicate the ephemeral tragedy of life and the world. A masterpiece that makes me feel regret, longing, peace, and all the other inherent qualities of being a human in this world more than most films.

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