Days of Heaven

Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Terrence Malick

REVIEWED: 07-27-98

Some movies are like Dorothy's twister; they just pick you up and whisk you away from the commonplace world you know to a world wondrous and astonishing. Days of Heaven is such a movie. As it unfolds its troubled tale of a romantic triangle, Terrence Malick's second film sweeps us away to a landscape of panoramic vistas, vivid colors, and rich textures. The landscape is one that Dorothy might recognize - the wheat fields of the Midwest - but Malick's vision of it is about as far from the dreary gray plains of Victor Fleming's Wizard of Oz as a filmmaker can get. Here, it's a vast, rolling ocean of burnished golden grain, over which stretches a vault of majestic blue. It ripples with life, the movements of which are captured with a clarity and brightness that makes the eye go wide and the jaw hang slack. It's so strikingly photographed - exquisite work by cinematographer Nestor Almendros - that it seems a world new and strange, as dazzling and profound in its mysteries as Oz. In some films, such visual virtuosity would be little more than pretty pictures, trying to distract us from the story's shortcomings. But Malick makes this landscape integral to his tale, a frontier not yet tamed, where nature still rules and can overwhelm feeble human concerns. A stunning film, proof of the power of setting to propel a story and to transport its audience.

--Robert Faires

Other Films by Terrence Malick
The Thin Red Line

Film Vault Suggested Links
Kitchen Party
Eye of God
A Christmas Carol

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