Days of Heaven (1978)

Your eyes… Your ears… Your senses… will be overwhelmed. In 1910, a Chicago steel worker accidentally kills his supervisor and flees to the Texas panhandle with his girlfriend and little sister to work harvesting wheat in the fields of a stoic farmer. Listen to me act out my review below 🙂 OR just continue reading below that.

A love triangle, a swarm of locusts, a hellish fire—Malick captures it all with dreamlike authenticity, creating at once a timeless American idyll and a gritty evocation of turn-of-the-century labor.

Days of Heaven (1978)
PG | 1h 34min | Drama, Romance | 6 October 1978 (USA)

A hot-tempered farm laborer convinces the woman he loves to marry their rich but dying boss so that they can have a claim to his fortune.
Director: Terrence Malick
Writer: Terrence Malick
Stars: Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard

This is a nice little story with spectacular cinematography. It’s a piece of American art in cinema that stays with you after the closing credits have run. There is a little here about a lot of things: liberty, justice, wealth, poverty, and the American way to happiness. This has been called the best reviewed film in history. Will I be in that camp? Wait and see. Let me tell you a bit about this director: Terrence Malick. This director is one of the most interesting ones I’ve yet to learn about. He found his way after 18 by attending Harvard. That’s not your average college folks. To get his undergrad degree he must have shown discipline and fortitude. After that as time neared the 1970’s he decided to make short films and eventually graduated from a film school. Now, Harvard and film school don’r automatically make a great director but in this case, they did. He directed “Badlands” with Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Like “Days of Heaven” this film deals with the gatekeepers that prevent certain people from achieving the American Dream. It also deals with infatuation, evil, drive, manipulation, and murder. But we’ll save “Badlands” for another day.

Now, let’s take a look at a few of the actors and the characters they play. Richard Gere plays Bill. He’s the one you have to hake up your mind whether he’s a criminal, evil, or just a desperate man trying to survive. Shoveling coal, he gets in an argument with his boss and accidentally kills him. After that he takes his girlfriend and girlfriend’s sister on the run for he knows he will be executed if caught.

In the new town, we see more of Abby, played by Brooke Adams. Incidentally, it was really educational for me as a reviewer to see her in this film. I knew her face so well from many films but did not realize just HOW many. The long list includes Monk (tv), Man on Fire, and may more. She does a great job with a complex character. She has to fake love a landowner she knows is dying in order to get inheritance for her boyfriend (Gere), and sister. It’s a mess and it only gets worse. Still, it raises so many questions about what is fair when people are so low they can never be rich.

Sam Shepard, may his poetic soul RIP, plays the landowner. I think you will agree that just these three actors with a good story and amazing cinematography will be worth the watching. It is. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and recommend it to you with a 9/10 score.

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