plaidflannel’s review published on Letterboxd:
Those films you know will resonate with you, will connect with you in some way—a way that is ambiguous but certain. Doesn’t have to be film; sometimes a glance at a scenery can find you imagining where your home would be, or a handshake with a person can find you picturing a home for your love.
The first scenes of Days of Heaven forged a bond, the first notes of its score clearly a theme for much more than what’s onscreen. Bill’s fueling a steel mill’s raging furnace, establishing a brilliantly constructed fire motif as well as impressing just the right spirit this film will convey. Bill’s running for freedom is a guise for the reality: that he’s carrying his brokenness around, not leaving it wherever his optimistic smile has just fled from.
Peace is his goal; it’s everyone’s goal. Endeavors in bending some slight truth, such as in the classic Abraham plot to pose his lover as an innocent sister, lead him on his search for the important truth. The Paradise that he not only wants, but the genetics of his soul reveal he needs. Equality, harmony… they’re blowing in the wind. So clear but so unattainable. Make no mistake: just because something is presently unattainable doesn’t mean it’s not real. This drive, this spirit of salvation; what could be realer on this journey?
Such a quest is penned, scrawled rather, in the handwriting of innocent little Linda, whose naïveté sees her understanding the world all too well. Her simplicity makes the world seem even more complicated. The viewer dwells on the dreamy beauty of the world on which she dwells, and sinks to the low valleys of uncertainty where she sinks, and moments that move too quickly for her to process are almost just as much for the audience enduring them with her.
Realities infest the land like the tireless, Exodus-echoing locusts until it’s clear that Bill’s dream of perfect redemption is not something extractable from this earth. The more we try, the more it remains this dream, this faint beckoning for Paradise. Humility breaks us down as the world’s shortcomings surround, but when everything’s aligned just right, we get a couple hours of beauty at a time… only when we reflect in golden retrospect do we see those hours’ progressing reflection of the Days of Heaven.