Sunday, April 22, 2012
A Heavenly Piece of Film
Written and directed by: Terrence Malick
Starring: Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard, Linda Manz, Robert J. Wilke, Jackie Shultis, Stuart Margolin, Timothy Scott, Gene Bell.
Running time: 92 min.
You know that moment when the credits start rolling in a film, and you sit there, as still as a statue, your eyes glued to the screen, willing for the film to keep going? Then, as you pry your eyes away from the screen, flip the disc out of the player, you find that the movie has seeped through your skin and has this strange hold on you, which can only be worn off by extreme distraction? Maybe you've never had this feeling before, but if you haven't, you can't have seen an extremely good film. I have this feeling often. The latest film taking responsibility: Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven.
Days of Heaven is not a film which I can easily write about, as it is often hard to write down coherent thoughts on a movie that I love so much. I can't really explain it, but it was like this film breathed life back into my love for movies. It even breathed life back into my life. This has barely anything to do with the story - it was all about the beautiful look of the film. Despite the fact that the film is one of the most critically acclaimed of all time, I've heard it said time and time again that the story isn't too strong. While it wasn't my favourite thing about the film, I thought it was still a heart-breaking one. The film opens with a largely silent scene of Bill (Richard Gere) accidentally killing someone at his workplace, which causes him to flee the scene and find a new line of work. He takes his sister, Linda (Linda Manz) and his girlfriend, Abby (Brooke Adams) on a train, and they ride it until they can find work. Bill and Abby say that they are brother and sister, to prevent gossip. On their train ride they are led to work on a farm, owned by a rich yet shy farmer (Sam Shepard) who Bill finds out is going to die within a year. He convinces Abby to marry the farmer so when he dies they can take all of his riches. As you can imagine, this isn't a secret so easily kept.
Malick is a visual film maker, as The Tree of Life definitely showed, and the same can be said for Days of Heaven. I admit, I was definitely into the story, which I thought was better than people give it credit for. Yet, when you have cinematography like that happening before your eyes, how are you supposed to focus on anything else? The cinematography is jaw-droppingly beautiful, showing the Earth in all it's beauty. This is the second time Malick has made me look at the Earth in a different way, opening up all of the beauty I've taken for granted. He shot most of the film at 'magic hour' (an hour before sundown), creating a pink, musky background which is intoxicating to look at. The title says it all - it is heavenly to watch. Everything about it is pure heaven, even though it doesn't tell a very happy story.
I wish I could end this review with a snappy line or something, but since Malick is a man who likes to write simple things, all I can say is that I just love this movie. I love it to pieces.
What I got: