Days of Heaven 1978

Directed by Terrence Malick Treasures

Reclusive auteur Terrence Malick’s sophomore effort, beautifully restored in 4K, is a bewitching, visually ravishing pre-World War I fable of passion and betrayal on the sun-drenched Texas prairie.

USA In English
94 minutes Colour / DCP
PG
Violence

Director/Screenplay

Producers

Bert Schneider, Harold Schneider

Cinematography

Néstor Almendros

Editor

Bill Weber

Production Designer

Jack Fisk

Costume Designers

Patricia Norris, Jerry R. Allen

Music

Ennio Morricone

Cast

Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard, Linda Manz, Robert J. Wilke, Jackie Shultis, Stuart Margolin, Timothy Scott

Festivals

Venice 2023

4K Restoration

Elsewhere

Presented in association with

Wellington Film Society

The filmmaker’s impulse to make “every frame a painting” has perhaps never been more fully realised, or transcended, than in the rapturous imagery of Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, a visual astonishment of the highest order. After the runaway critical success of Badlands, Malick’s intentions turned toward the more outwardly poetic, rendered here in the wispy tale of a doomed love triangle on the farmlands of the Texas prairie before World War I.  

Bill (Richard Gere) has gotten into a fight in Chicago which ended with the killing of a steel mill foreman. On the run with his lover Abby (Brooke Adams) and watchful younger sister Linda (Linda Manz), the three take up seasonal work for a farmer (Sam Shepard) who falls for Abby, kicking off a tragic chain of events that will permanently alter the course of their lives. Malick assembled the film quietly, using only trusted collaborators like celebrated art director Jack Fisk – the film’s Oscar-winning cinematography, meanwhile, is credited to Néstor Almendros, though master lenser Haskell Wexler (credited under “Additional Photography”) has long claimed at least half of the film belongs to his camerawork.  

Arriving deep within the “New Hollywood” period of the 1970s, when visionaries such as Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and Francis Ford Coppola were cutting their teeth, Days of Heaven was a reflection of the subversive ideas of the time – a grand melodrama sans-soapiness, opting instead for visual lyricism and elegiac, haunting majesty. Malick would not make another film for 20 years. With moving use of voiceover and a spiritual gaze that places humans within the grand swirling mystery of nature, it is Days of Heaven that suggests the career Malick would later have with masterworks like The Tree of Life, The New World and The Thin Red Line. — Tom Augustine