I was fortunate enough to see Days of Heaven on the big screen in the early 80s. Its stunning combination of landscape, image, sound and music was sheer sensory overload. Many people find the film's simple story lacking, but the familiar love triangle neatly encapsulates classical themes of love, desire, jealousy, murder and revenge. Traditionally these are foundations for epic tragedy, but Malick portrays the human story as insignificant within the eternal spiral of the universe. His obsession is to capture the momentous roll of day into night, the flourish and decay of the seasons and the gentle whisper of the breeze. Even the flutter of a single blade of grass has its own grandeur. The muted characters struggle for transitory life against these timeless forces. When jealousy escalates to murder, Nature takes symbolic, biblical revenge.
Days of Heaven is dominated by its legendary cinematography and score - generally acknowledged to be some of the most beautiful imagery and music ever set to film. You can lie back and luxuriate in these elements time after time and really savour the atmosphere. I know there are greater masterpieces on my shelf, and it doesn't hold up so well on the smaller screen, but this is my favourite movie and I return to it time after time.