Days of Heaven

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Widely considered one of the most beautifully photographed films of all time, Terrence Malick’s second feature (and his last for two decades) scored the sophomore filmmaker the Best Director award at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival and closed out the decade as one of the greatest and most atypical Hollywood films of the ‘70s. In 1916, after serious trouble at work, Bill (Richard Gere) flees the steel mills of Chicago for the wheat fields of the Texas Panhandle with his 12 year old sister Linda (the mesmerizing Linda Manz, who also serves as the film’s narrator) and girlfriend Abby (Brooke Adams) in tow. After landing in Texas, the three find employment as seasonal workers with a rich, fatally ill gentleman farmer (Sam Shepard). When the farmer takes a shine to Abby (who is posing as Bill’s sister), a strange love triangle is ignited, leading to explosive passion, violence and death, played out against the majestic, golden-hued expanses of the great Texas wheat fields. Gorgeously rendered by renowned cinematographers Nestor Almendros and Haskell Wexler (whom Malik famously encouraged to shoot during the twilight “magic hour”), and hauntingly scored by the great Ennio Morricone, Days of Heaven is a rapturous, visually sublime meditation on American history and myth that is at once lyrical, epic and tantalizingly inflected with the Biblical implications of its title. (Dir. by Terrence Malick, 1978, USA, 94 mins., Rated PG) Digital