Days of Heaven

( 7 )

Overview

Days of Heaven was only the second feature film from writer and director Terrence Malick, but the grace and assurance of its visual storytelling suggested the work of an old master, and though the picture wasn't a major box office success, it's remembered by those who saw it as one of the most remarkable and evocative works to come out of the new American cinema of the Seventies, a movie that didn't challenge the canon of traditional filmmaking so much as it embraced classicism while casting it in a new and ...
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DVD (Criterion Collection / Wide Screen)
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Overview

Days of Heaven was only the second feature film from writer and director Terrence Malick, but the grace and assurance of its visual storytelling suggested the work of an old master, and though the picture wasn't a major box office success, it's remembered by those who saw it as one of the most remarkable and evocative works to come out of the new American cinema of the Seventies, a movie that didn't challenge the canon of traditional filmmaking so much as it embraced classicism while casting it in a new and expressive light. The striking visual beauty of Days of Heaven hasn't always been well served on home video -- if there was ever was a film that deserved to be seen on the big screen, this is it -- but the DVD edition from the Criterion Collection does a far better job of preserving the gorgeous play of shadow and light in Nestor Almendros's cinematography than any previous release of the movie. Days Of Heaven has been given a widescreen transfer to disc in Malick's preferred aspect ratio of 1.78:1, letterboxed on conventional televisions and enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16x9 monitors; the transfer was supervised and approved by Malick, camera operator John Bailey and editor Billy Weber (Almendros passed on in 1992), and the results are little short of magical. Which much has been made of Days of Heaven's sparse dialogue, Malick's use of the sound track is bright and imaginative in its mingling of natural sounds, music and Linda Manz's narration, and the new 5.1 sound track created for the Criterion DVD (based in part on the four-track mix created for the picture's 70mm engagements) is every bit as impressive as the picture. The dialogue in the film is in English, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options included. The disc includes an assortment of bonus features, most notably a commentary track in which Bailey, art director Jack Fisk, costume designer Patricia Norris and casting director Dianne Crittenden talk at length about the challenges of bringing Malick's vision to the screen. The disc also includes interviews with cast members Richard Gere and Sam Shepard, both fresh to the screen when they made the movie, about their roles in the production, and John Bailey and Haskell Wexler (the latter of whom took over for Almendros for several weeks when he left the project due to prior commitments) discuss creating the picture's remarkable look. Finally, the accompanying booklet includes a thoughtful essay on Days of Heaven from critic Adrian Martin and a seventeen-page excerpt from Almendros's autobiography A Man With A Camera about his work on the movie. Nearly everyone who discusses Days of Heaven in this package mentions Malick's difficulty in expressing his ideas in words, and its significant that he doesn't appear on the commentary track or in an interview here, but when watching this disc his gifts as a filmmaker are remarkably clear, and Criterion's release of Days of Heaven is a loving tribute to a singular film by a singular artist.
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Special Features

New, restored high-definition digital trasfer, supervised and approved by director Terrence Malick, editor Billy Weber, and camera operator John Bailey; New dolby digital 5.1 soundtrack; Audio commentary featuring Weber, art director Jack Fisk, costume designer Patricia Norris, and casting director Dianne Crittenden; New audio interview with Richard Gere; New video interviews with cinematographers Haskell Wexler and Bailey, and a video interview with Sam Shepard from 2002; Plus: a booklet featuring an essay by critic Adrian Martin and a chapter from director of photography Nestor Almendro's autobiography
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Terrence Malick's follow-up to his acclaimed 1973 debut Badlands confirmed his reputation as a visual poet and narrative iconoclast. Inspired by silent master F.W. Murnau's City Girl (1930), and shot by Nestor Almendros and Haskell Wexler in natural light primarily during the "magic hour" before sunset, Malick's spectacular imagery took the place of conventional exposition and excessive dialogue. The tragic love triangle between a migrant worker couple and a wealthy landowner must be pieced together through brief, cryptic incidents and child observer Linda's jaded, distant voice-over; the expressive sequences of nature's radiance and brutality allude to the emotions brewing beneath the adults' cool surfaces. Ennio Morricone's delicate, dreamy score further complemented the narrative restraint and sensory beauty. Hailed as a lushly visual masterpiece, even by viewers less taken with Malick's elliptical story-telling, Days of Heaven won a Cannes Film Festival prize and an Oscar for its cinematography, and received Oscar nominations for Score, Costumes, and Sound. Malick himself won Best Director awards from Cannes and the New York Film Critics' Circle. Despite its critical success, Days of Heaven failed to find an audience in 1978; Malick took a 20-year sabbatical from directing before making The Thin Red Line (1998).
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/23/2007
  • UPC: 715515026321
  • Original Release: 1978
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Criterion Collection / Wide Screen
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:34:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 3,843

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Gere Bill
Brooke Adams Abby
Sam Shepard The Farmer
Linda Manz Linda
Robert J. Wilke Farm Foreman
Stuart Margolin Mill Foreman
Jackie Shultis Linda's friend
Gene Bell Dancer
Doug Kershaw Fiddler
Muriel Jolliffe Headmistress
Frenchie Lemond Vaudeville Wrestler
Richard Libertini Vaudeville Leader
Sahbra Markus Vaudeville Dancer
Timothy Scott Harvest Hand
John K. Wilkinson Preacher
Bob Wilson Accountant
Technical Credits
Terrence Malick Director, Screenwriter
Nestor Almendros Cinematographer
John Bailey Camera Operator
Jacob Brackman Executive Producer
Jamie Brown Makeup
Skip Cosper Asst. Director
Dianne Crittenden Casting
Jack Fisk Art Director
Robert W. Glass Jr. Sound/Sound Designer
Peter Gregory Sound/Sound Designer
Les Kimber Production Manager
Leo Kottke Score Composer
Mel Merrells Special Effects
Ennio Morricone Score Composer
Pat Norris Costumes/Costume Designer
John Reitz Sound/Sound Designer
George Ronconi Sound Mixer
Bert Schneider Producer
Harold Schneider Producer
Robert Thirlwell Sound/Sound Designer
Barry Thomas Sound Mixer
John Thomas Special Effects
Billy Weber Editor
Haskell Wexler Cinematographer
John K. Wilkinson Sound/Sound Designer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Days of Heaven
1. Going Places [6:29]
2. Work [3:27]
3. Harvest [2:17]
4. Abby [4:11]
5. Prognosis [3:30]
6. The Job Ends [5:14]
7. Tired [4:17]
8. Staying On [3:53]
9. The Future [2:58]
10. Marriage [4:44]
11. The Rich [3:27]
12. Out For a Walk [2:50]
13. "I Don't Know You" [4:04]
14. Flying Circus [6:26]
15. Business [4:15]
16. Return [5:27]
17. Locusts [8:34]
18. "Noboy's Perfect" [4:44]
19. Hunted [5:10]
20. New Beginnings [7:48]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Days of Heaven
   Play the Movie
   Chapters
      Color Bars
   Commentary
      On
      Off
   Actors
      Richard Gere
      Sam Shepard
   Camera
      John Bailey
      Haskell Wexler
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(5)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    There's a reason this version costs more than the standard version...

    ...that reason is "Criterion."

    There's nothing "wrong" with the standard version of this film, which is much cheaper, but for a film like this, to be mastered and restored in a new high definition digital transfer with a new Dolby 5.1 soundtrack, and LOADS of great bonus material, it's an easy choice...an even better choice might be the upcoming Blu-Ray release that Criterion is planning in a couple months.

    There's a good chance you may not have heard of "Terrence Malick" (the writer/director) or the film. But once you see it, it becomes quite clear why Malick has become almost iconic even though he only made two films in the 70s (this and "Badlands")...and then took a rather long hiatus until 1998's "The Thin Red Line" where his near-legendary reputation attracted one of the finest ensemble casts in recent memory.

    To rate this film visually 5 stars out of 5, seems almost ineadequate. This is truly an artistic work unique to cinema, its visuals are unsurpassed, the narration (which often can backfire) is on the mark, and the sounds and sights take a bland love triangle, migrant worker story into something truly transcendent.

    There are very few films I would truly describe as "poetic," but this, like much of Malick's work is undeniably so.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    An obscure gem from the 1970's.

    DAYS OF HEAVEN is Terrence Malick's masterpiece; a visually stunning tale about the struggles of the pursuit of the "American Dream". Set in the rural Texas panhandle of the early 20th century, the film examines the decision-making process of a young, unmarried couple trying to eke out a simple existence. A friend of mine, who emigrated from India in the 1980's, has told me that this film helped him to understand the concept of America more than any other. I highly recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    BEAUTIFUL FILM

    THIS A BEAUTIFUL FILM, AND IT DISPLAYS THE TIME PERIOD PERFECTLY. THE ACTING IS GREAT AND STORYLINE IS TANGLED BETWEEN WHAT IS SHOWN AS A BROTHER IN LOVE WITH HIS SISTER WHO MARRYS A RICHMAN FOR A BETTER LIFE. OF COURSE, SIN FOLLOWS SIN, AND THE OUTCOME IS QUITE ENTERTAINING. SAM SHEPARD GIVES A GREAT PERFORMANCE, INCLUDING RICHARD GERE WITH HIS CHICAGOE! ACCENT.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews