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Days of Heaven is a 1979 U.S. love film written and directed by Terrence Malick and starring Richard Gere ( James Bond) , Brooke AdamsSam Shepard and Linda Manz. It is a love story about two poor peasants, Bill and Abby, as they travel to the Texas Panhandle to harvest crops for a wealthy farmer. After working on the fields for countless of days, the young wealthy farmer approached Abby and confessed his good feelings for her. Bill, who overheard the farmer and foreman’s conversation about the farmer’s deteriorating health, encourages Abby to claim the fortune of the dying farmer by tricking him into a false marriage. However both naive lovers overlooked his longevity and caused a stir in an unstable love triangle and a series of unfortunate events.

Bill has killed two men in this film. He first ran away to Texas Panhandle with his girlfriend Abby and sister Linda after retorting to his superior at a coal factory. On the second occasion, Bill stabbed the farmer, Sam, with a screwdriver in his hands when the farmer was just about to pull a trigger onto him after realizing that he had been fooled by the couple who pretended to be siblings. Bill’s character in this film was about escaping the truth. He escaped the responsibility of killings. He also escaped away from the farm right after knowing that the false marriage had a certain extent of feelings which Abby has for the farmer. Perhaps, this film was called Days of Heaven. He ran from the truth to seek good fortunes, such as lying about the relationship he was having with Abby due to greed. A temporary happiness that was as countable as the days of “heaven”.

Most of the film also emphasized on seeking life of the unknown. The trio travels to places that they never been before, seeking for surviving as they survive to seek for the better. Unfortunately, Bill couldn’t seek for anything else better when he was shot by a group of policemen summoned by the farmer’s foreman. The love among the trio was put to an end when Bill died, leaving Linda at a boarding school of dancing, and Abby to seek off for her next unknown journey. Linda, on the other hand, seeks into another unknown journey with her new found friend, who is extremely daring as her brother.

From this particular film, we can see that Days of Heaven in the all the characters were not meant to last. Nothing good last. For example, the life of Bill. The extreme life condition compared for Abby, from working dusk till dawn, sleeping on a pile of hay to brave the snow, to having fun from morning to night, sleeping on a proper mattress and having nutritious meals. The foreman’s wish to keep the farmer protected, but who got killed by Bill.

Bill and Abby enjoyed the reality of being wealthy so dearly that they got too caught up with being pretentious about truth.

Cinematography

Quoted from wikipedia, “Days of Heaven has since become one of the most acclaimed films of all time, particularly noted for the beauty of the cinematography. In 2007, Days of Heaven was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. I strongly agree on the beauty of the cinematography which captured the awe and wonderness of the wild and human expression. There were particular long dolly shots – which explains the stability of most scenes in this film, super micro close up shots of locust that looks like a clip taken down from National Geographic. The colours were splendid accompanied with smooth editing in addition to the raw realistic narration of Linda throughout the film to describe her own thoughts and feelings. The scores which were used were soothing to my ears played in a happy, positive tune. Wide panning long shots were utilized to show the vast composite of life and nature.

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According to Terrence Malick’s biography on IMDb, his aesthetic significance includes,

  • Always includes narration by one or more characters
  • Often includes nature as a major element in his films
  • His films are shot almost entirely outside
  • Ever since his return to filmmaking (1998), all his movies feature narrated soliloquies by the main characters
  • Known as a bit of a recluse from public life and rarely gives interviews or makes appearances
  • Philosophical themes
  • Heavy use of steadicam
  • Visual dialectics through images
  • Shoots many of his scenes at magic hour and keeps the sun in the back of shots
  • Rarely uses artificial light

7 out of these 10 pointers were clearly exhibited in Days of Heaven.

Besides terrence’s artistic cinematography, i enjoyed watching this film particularly because it focus mildly on how characters were struggling to make a living, and how they used available resources to keep themselves living an enjoyable life. The cunningness of human greed and the desperation for love. A blurred line between owning what’s yours and what’s not.

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I can’t admire in awe in the scene of locusts attacking the crops with helpless man on site. Later did i know that terrence cleverly substitute this scene of swamp attack with some object that is more intriguing…thousands of peanut shells thrown off from a helicopter as the film took place.

” To film the scene with the locusts, where the insects rise into the sky, the filmmakers dropped peanut shells from helicopters. The actors had to walk backwards while running the film in reverse through the camera and achieve the effect. When it was projected, everything moved forward except the locusts.” [3]

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Katie Tham is the creative director on how to be creatively rebellious. She devotes her time to laugh and shower the world with warmth. Her love moto is not about finding the right one to love, but how you can love the found one right. Be sure to stay connected with her unglamorous via her instagram @emberiakatt.

 

Reference

Terrence Malick’s bilography IMDb. Days of Heaven (1979) [online] Available at: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000517/bio %5B24 June 2013]

Days of Heaven ( 1979 ) Available online at :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Days_of_Heaven [24 June 2013]

[3]  Thompson, Rustin (June 30, 1998). “Myth-making With Natural Light”.Moviemaker. Archived from the original on December 23, 2010. Retrieved June 25,2013.

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