‘Days of Heaven’


It was Terrence Malick’s last film before his notorious 20-year hiatus, it was Sam Shepard’s introduction to moviegoers, and it seems almost incontestably the most gorgeously photographed film ever made. Like The New World, Days of Heaven is, therefore, a rapture that must be seen on a big screen; on TV, it’s a different animal. But unlike Badlands or even The Thin Red Line, there has never been a consensus about Malick’s sophomore folly—the story, about a love triangle in the Texas wheat fields during World War I, is thin and underdramatized. So, is Days of Heaven simply a movie that never quite lives up to its cinematography (shot famously, and only, during twilight by Néstor Almendros) and its music (by Ennio Morricone), or is it, film being the sensual encounter it is, a masterpiece because of its unsurpassed textural pleasure? Make the call, and don’t think you know which way you sway if you’ve only seen this hothouse blossom in your living room.

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