My Week With Malick #6: Days of Heaven

days_of_heaven1
No devil, all angel in you…
For the past 94 minutes I sat and watched an indescribably pretty movie called Days of Heaven, a film that condenses all the things I have grown to love about this particular filmmaker into the tightest package so far. The narrative is as relevant as it’s ever been, but the sensuousness of the imagery, of the heightened passions surrounding a particularly beautiful place…that is magic, and it’s thanks to the perpetual insistence on shooting during The Golden Hour. The plot of this has been called a love triangle, but the intersections between where The Farmer (in a great ensemble, Sam Shepard’s tragic romantic is the clear standout) begins and where Linda ends in this dynamic is just one of the many haunting things. Then you factor in the details like the gradual dissolution of all the varied wildlife, replaced by disgusting locusts devouring everything that is good about this part of the country, and you wonder just how beautifully adventurous Hollywood was back in the 1970s. Linda’s eerie waif is a clearly broken little girl who makes everything so much more interesting by grabbing onto the perspective of these events and not letting go, with Abby and Bill subsequently seeming plenty more tragically romantic. Credit is also due to Brooke Adams and especially Richard Gere fill in what makes them tick, with the way of nature and the way of grace from Tree of Life coming to the forefront in their personalities, albeit not in that order. Paradise is truly lost by the stupidity of the adult triangle, with poor Linda being the one to suffer even if she has put a fake, Lillian Gish smile on it, even in her interactions with such strange little asides as the circus troupe that eerily reflects her gang. But the real MVP, beyond Malick himself, is DP Nestor Almendros, who may not be the man to assemble the many perfect images we see into a coherent whole but sure as hell deserves the acclaim for rendering this section of the United States both large and small, from the glorious tableaux of workers in a field to the tiniest of insects destroying it. The shadows are spectacular and I hope to see this piece of majesty on the big screen some day, to stretch out the spaces between these four loners and their destructive habits writ large and ramping up the tragic nature.

One more to go!

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