Every so often an artist in most every art will come along with a unique style that is unlike anything other people have done in the same medium. I think Terrence Malick is one of these people. His films have a certain subtly and simple tone to them that makes you feel like this is a real story with real people in a real place. The ambient sounds and broad shots of people and places and things are as close to being as life like as I have experienced in film, and he does it consistently. The dialogue is general and exactly what you would expect from the characters, and it is not used to tell the story, but instead just be the interaction between characters. The narration is what helps to shape the stories, and it does so in a way that reading someone’s personal journal might help tell a story. The combination of all these things has made some remarkably beautiful and memorable films and scenes.
Days of Heaven is the story of a couple and their younger friend looking to escape the city of Chicago and travel south in a Of Mice and Men fashion, traveling with the train lines to find work wherever they can in the farms. Richard Gere plays Bill, who leads the gang south in order to find better living. After finding that his rich boss is not long for the world, he convinces his love Abby, played by Brooke Adams, to marry him to claim a part of his fortunes. The rich farmer, played by Sam Shepard, grows suspicious of the strange behavior of his wife and her ‘brother’, and it turns out that he may not be dying after all.
Here, in Malick’s second feature film, we can see his style really come out and flourish. This film is littered with wonderful cinematography, and the story is a humble one. The audio, both music and sound effects, all tie together to make a really pleasant film. This, along with Malick’s other films, is a perfect summer evening film that you can really feel.
3.5/4 – Terrence Malick finds his trademark writing/directing style in Days of Heaven. Awesome camera shots with a dramatic love story and good lead performances, this is what put Malick, Richard Gere, and Brooke Adams on the map.