Thursday, 18 September 2014

Visual & Sound Diary: Days of Heaven (1978)

Visual & Sound Diary is a weekly feature where I explore a chosen film of distinctive cinematography and musical composition via the score, soundtrack and stills. This is how it works: click play on the link supplied of the selected music and scroll through the images. Be reminded and inspired of the cinematic splendour. 
Note: the last shot is my pick for the best shot.

Terence Malick's signature ambiguity is prevalent in his second 70s feature, Days of Heaven. The trademarks of his artistry are most apparent: the spareness of dialogue, focus on movement and sound, the eerie sets of montages and ultimately, that dreamy quality of which no other director seems to be able to capture quite as well. Days of Heaven boasts the stunning, raw cinematography of Néstor Alendros - a film artist whose love affair with natural light is blatantly obvious. Alendros' iconic shot of the storm of cicadas descending on the farm is, I dare say, imprinted in the minds of nearly every cinephile. The selection of Saint-Saëns' "The Carnival of Animals" is a masterstroke - it's appropriately sinister, spirited, haunting and disconnected from reality. 

The performances of Malick's films are never central to the feature itself. Take The Tree of Life for instance, Jessica Chaistain and Brad Pitt's performances were flawless, exceptional representations and facilitators of the film's subject matter but never important enough to warrant awards attention. It's Malick's craftsmanship and auteur vision which shines through and garners the most attention. Likewise, Days of Heaven leads Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard and Linda Manz provide sublime, understated representations but nonetheless it is Malick's collective reverie that becomes the real marvel. 

Shooting Location: The US - Whiskey Gap, Alberta & Heritage Park Historical Village, Calgary 


  1. Yeah, this is easily one of the best looking films ever made. It's compositions are utterly flawless. No one captures life quite the way Malick does. Great post!

    1. Couldn't agree more. We are so lucky to have him! There's just no artist quite like him. Thank you :)