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Criterion Collection: Days of Heaven [Blu-ray]  [US Import]
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Migrant lovers and a little sister con a rich wheat farmer in 1910s Texas. Directed by Terrence Malick.
Originally shown on the big screen in glorious 70 mm, Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven is an aesthetically flawless eye-catching period piece that won its cinematographer, Néstor Almendros, an Oscar. Texture and colour are the unbilled characters in this tragic tale, and are just as important as the players. Richard Gere works in a Chicago steel mill at the turn of the 19th century, but must flee the city after accidentally killing a man. Heading for the wheat fields of Texas, he packs up his girlfriend (Brooke Adams) and his younger sister (Linda Manz). Instead of a better life, they head straight into tragedy when a wealthy farmer (Sam Shepard) falls for Adams. Believing him to be dying and expecting to inherit a fortune, she agrees to marry him. Their plans change when Shepard fails to die and Gere takes matters into his own hands. The story, sadly, fades somewhat when compared to the glory of the visuals. --Rochelle O'Gorman --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I say this because this sought-after title is REGION-A LOCKED and therefore requires a chipped multi-region BLU RAY player to play it on if you live in either the UK or Europe. Those machines are both hard to find here and extremely expensive (compared to their multi-region DVD counterparts).
So until someone else releases this in another part of the world which we can use - "Days Of Heaven" is going to remain off limits to fans on this side of the pond for some time to come...
I think the question is whether the look and sound of the film are married to excellence in all the other elements that make up a really fine picture; and here I think there is at least room for doubt. The narrative of the triangular relationship between employer and two labourers is quite elliptical, and I feel there is an emotional coldness at the heart of it which prevents full engagement by the audience. This also means that the two incidents of violence at the beginning and end of the film lack full impact; and this before one considers whether they are well integrated into the thrust of the film.
I enjoyed the visual aspects of the picture so much that the drawbacks outlined above were all the more disappointing.
The story is a tragic Hardyesque one, with a love triangle, reminiscent of the story of Abraham and Sarah, when Abraham lies to Pharaoh about Sarah being his sister rather than his wife. Pharaoh complains to Abraham that he will bring evil to his house...and that's precisely what happens to landowner, Sam Shepard.
Ennio Morricone's score is drawn from Saint Saens' The Aquarium, adding to the beauty of the film but also the sense of inevitability.
Sam Shepard and Brooke Adams are excellent (thank goodness they are not the pretty people of tinseltown!) Richard Gere is at his best ever, not quite in the habit yet of detaching himself from the emotion of the story.
Not many people know this film when I tell them it's one of my all time favourites. I've waited for it since seeing it many years ago - at last I have it for myself!
As you would expect from Terence Mallick the film is so much more; the story is secondary to the wonder and beauty the director sees in the natural world. The characters and their story are only a part of a world driven by and kept moving by eternal conflict. Mallick's camera is equally interested in the wind blowing through wheat fields or locusts swarming at dusk.
I don't think it reaches the meditative highs of his next film- The Thin Red Line, but, the film is less ponderous and is a wonderful visual experience.
Sam Shepard and Richard Gere are quite convincing in portraying, with almost no dialogue, the conflicting emotions and suffering of the rivals for Brooke Adams' affections. Adams also is well cast as the beautiful girl from humble circumstances who is at once corrupted and the source of all truth. And the narration by the child is a wonderful touch that adds an ironic perspective to the tale. Leo Kottke's guitar on the soundtrack is yet another perfect touch. What keeps it real is Terence Malick's passion for natural detail, from locusts and wild turkeys to the guile and weakness in human nature. And his characters' simple, American vernacular, especially the narration of the young girl (Linda Manz), adds another rhythm to the golden-hour visual poetry. Every shot is suitable for framing. Watching the movie again recently, i was struck by the little girl's narration, its her story, told by her, and its subject is the way that hope and cheer have been beaten down in her heart.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautiful cinematography but poor sound quality for the actors' dialogue on this DVD. I wonder how good it was on the celluloid? Read morePublished 6 months ago by Mr. John P. Dalton
Given the age of this film, it's a very nice transfer to DVD. Anything by Terrence Malick should be in the library of all serious film buffs.Published 7 months ago by Shivanataraja
Now as dated as shoulder-pads but still exquisitely shot in natural light by Nestor Alemendros. A memorable film whose stand-out performance comes not from the two leads but the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Amanda Craig
It was fun seeing a young Richard Gere, time certainly happens to us all. I thought the film was average. The scenery, costumes and characters certainly looked the part. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Juddz444
One of my top 10 films . So brilliant acted and the look is so stunning .Published 23 months ago by miss k daniel
Nice scenery, but I felt some what disconnected from the film and I'm unlikely to watch it again.Published on 5 April 2015 by Joel