Jul 12, 2010

18th July 2010; Days of Heaven

Days of Heaven
A film by Terrence Malick
Year 1978
Country :USA
English with English subtitles
Run time: 94 min
18th Jul 2010; 5.45pm
Perks Mini Theatre, Perks school.

Screening will be followed by a 20 minutes
documentary with Haskell Wexler
on cinematography in ‘Days of Heaven’

Terence Malick's "Days of Heaven'' has been praised for its painterly images and evocative score.this is the story of a teenage girl, told by her, and its subject is the way that hope and cheer have been beaten down in her heart.
Days of Heaven takes a quantum leap into the cosmological vision of a F.W. Murnau or Kenji Mizoguchi: suddenly all the forms and materials are in constant motion around each other, constantly defining, re-defining and transforming one another.
Malick's filmmaking is quiet, assured, meditative, and his film slowly parcels out fragments of narrative with a gentle rhythm that matches the steady flow of the natural world surrounding his characters. The film is deeply attuned to a world beyond its characters and their earthbound problems, and Malick seems to be at his best when he's working on a grand scale, when the people are just dots or black outlines in the midst of vast, seemingly endless vistas — or when there are no people at all to clutter the flat, wide-open spaces he's filming.
This is a film of grandeur and beauty, an epic in which there is no epic action, no broad drama, only the wonder of nature and the nearly equal awe inspired by the cinematography that captures nature in such unguarded moments.
The story here is a simple one. Bill (Richard Gere), a laborer in a steel mill, accidentally kills his foreman in a fight, and consequently goes on the run with his girl Abby (Brooke Adams) and his little sister (Linda Manz). The trio, with Bill and Abby pretending to be brother and sister, find work on a wheat farm, harvesting the autumn crop under the attentive eye of an unnamed farmer (Sam Shepard) who soon falls for Abby. The love triangle that develops, and the tragedy that results, are related almost entirely in short, elliptical scenes that strip down the basic story to its most essential details and moments.
Malick is clearly a filmmaker who believes in economy in his storytelling, and there's also a certain flatness of tone that equates all of the film's images and moments.There are many individual moments here that must surely rank among the most beautiful shots ever filmed.
The film is propelled along by tiny incidents, accumulating its force and its emotional impact by positioning its characters' petty drama in a context that is both universal and socially engaged.
Malick's pictorial sensibility, his love of natural beauty, doesn't prevent the film from dealing with the realities of Dust Bowl living in the Depression era. In fact, the film's emotional locus is in its treatment of extreme poverty and transient labor, not in the rather rote love triangle and its effect on the lovers. The driving force of the film's drama is poverty, and when Abby begins gravitating towards the farmer, she seems to fall in love with his lifestyle more than she does with him.

Malick uses his landscape shots as a fully developed language in their own right. These shots have a wide variety of meanings, signaling the passage of time, suggesting metaphorical content that relates to the story, as rhythmic inserts for purposes of pacing, and sometimes, simply for their own sake, to bask in the beauty of a natural world in which even the most melodramatic of human-scale stories can seem small and inconsequential. (Source:Internet)

Myth-making With Natural Light

Nestor Almendros & Haskell Wexler were in charge of the cinematography. Nestor Almendros won the Oscar for cinematography.

"Since I lack imagination," Almendros wrote in his marvelous book, A Man With A Camera, "I seek inspiration in nature, which offers me an infinite variety of forms." Almendros, who died in 1992, shot seven films for Eric Rohmer, nine for Francois Truffaut, and four for Robert Benton. He worked with Alan Pakula on Sophie's Choice, Martin Scorsese on his Life Lessons episode in New York Stories, and won his Oscar for Terence Malick's Days of Heaven.

Terrence Malick

The world was like a faraway planet, to which I could never return ... I thought what a fine place it was, full of things that people can look into and enjoy.
– Holly (Sissy Spacek) in Badlands – (malick’s second movie)

When making a film, Terrence Malick speaks to his collaborators in poetic images. To Martin Sheen in Badlands (1973), he said: ‘Think of the gun in your hand as a magic wand.’ To the post-production team (editors and sound mixers) on The Thin Red Line (1998), he advised: ‘It’s like moving down a river, and the picture should have the same kind of flow.’ And to Jörg Widmer, his Steadicam operator for The New World (2005), he whispered: ‘You have the quail at the wing when it’s about to fly.’

Malick grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and Texas, working on oil fields as a young man. He moved to Austin, Texas and graduated from St. Stephen's Episcopal School.

Malick studied philosophy under Stanley Cavell at Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1965. He went on to Magdalen College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. After a disagreement with his advisor, Gilbert Ryle, over his thesis on the concept of the world in Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein, Malick left Oxford without a doctorate degree. In 1969, Northwestern University Press published Malick's translation of Heidegger's Vom Wesen des Grundes as The Essence of Reasons. Moving back to the United States, Malick taught philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology while freelancing as a journalist. He wrote articles for Newsweek, The New Yorker, and Life.

Malick got his start in film after earning an MFA from the AFI Conservatory in 1969, directing Lanton Mills. At the AFI he established contacts with people such as Jack Nicholson and agent Mike Medavoy, who acquired freelance script-doctoring work for him.

After working as a screenwriter and script doctor, Malick directed Badlands (1973) and Days of Heaven (1978). Following the release of Days of Heaven, Malick moved to France and disappeared from public view for 20 years. He returned to film in 1998 with The Thin Red Line. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, but did not win any of them.

His fourth feature was The New World, whose script he finished in the late 1970s. The film features a romantic interpretation of the story of John Smith and Pocahontas, filmed in his customary transcendental style.

Malick is famously reclusive. His contracts stipulate that no one may photograph, and he routinely declines requests for interviews. Malick married Alexandra "Ecky" Wallace in 1998. They reside in Austin, Texas.


வெடிகுண்டு வெங்கட் said...


your writing makes me to watch this film.

thanks for a nice intro for a good movie.

வெடிகுண்டு வெங்கட்.
அனுஷ்காவும், ஆபாச போஸ்டரும்

மீனாட்சி சுந்தரம் said...

Great movie, celebrated for its natural light photography. I saw this couple of months ago based on Mr. Anand's recommendation.

Some of the scenes in the beginning were intentionally shot with backlight where actors faces are dark and underexposed. This goes against the rules of photography which gives distinct style to this movie.

Most of the outdoor shots are taken in the golden hour which is early morning just after the sunrise when the light is diffused and golden in color. This is a great movie for aspiring photographers to learn about light and its magic.

Good luck for the screening.