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Days of Heaven (1978)

PG | | Drama, Romance | 6 October 1978 (USA)
A hot-tempered farm laborer convinces the woman he loves to marry their rich but dying boss so that they can have a claim to his fortune.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Bill
... Abby
... The Farmer
Linda Manz ... Linda
... The Farm Foreman (as Robert Wilke)
Jackie Shultis ... Linda's Friend
... Mill Foreman
... Harvest Hand (as Tim Scott)
Gene Bell ... Dancer
Doug Kershaw ... Fiddler
... Vaudeville Leader
Frenchie Lemond ... Vaudeville Wrestler
Sahbra Markus ... Vaudeville Dancer
Bob Wilson ... Accountant
Muriel Jolliffe ... Headmistress
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Storyline

Bill and Abby, a young couple who to the outside world pretend to be brother and sister are living and working in Chicago at the beginning of the century. They want to escape the poverty and hard labor of the city and travel south. Together with the girl Linda (who acts as the narrator in the movie) they find employment on a farm in the Texas panhandle. When the harvest is over the young, rich and handsome farmer invites them to stay because he has fallen in love with Abby. When Bill and Abby discover that the farmer is seriously ill and has only got a year left to live they decide that Abby will accept his wedding proposal in order to make some benefit out of the situation. When the expected death fails to come, jealousy and impatience are slowly setting in and accidents become eventually inevitable. Written by Theo de Grood <tdg@xs4all.nl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You've got to go through Hell before you get to Heaven See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

6 October 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Días de gloria  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$3,446,749, 31 December 1978
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Even though Richard Gere's first notable role was in Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), he actually made this first, but the film took two years to edit and wasn't released until 1978. See more »

Goofs

Any Fokker Dr.1 triplanes available just after WWI would have the original rotary engine, rather than a radial engine. The difference is that the rotary engine spins along with the propeller, and a radial engine doesn't. The Fokker in the 59th minute clearly has a radial engine. See more »

Quotes

Bill: The man's got one foot on a banana, and the other foot on a roller skate. It'll all be gone in a couple of years. Who's gonna care if we acted perfectly?
See more »

Connections

References A Canterbury Tale (1944) See more »

Soundtracks

Carnival of the Animals - The Aquarium
by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performed by Wiener Philharmoniker (as the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra)
Used by permission of Polydor International GmbH Copyright 1975
Conducted by Karl Böhm (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"You'd give him a flower, he'd keep it forever"
15 August 2009 | by See all my reviews

Terrence Malick is less a storyteller than a visual poet. At times, the images in 'Days of Heaven (1978)' seem too beautiful to be believed – could Mother Nature even construct such moments of magnificence at her own accord? Cinematographers Néstor Almendros and Haskell Wexler (credited only as "additional photographer") consistently shot the film during the "magic hour" between darkness and sunrise/sunset, when the sun's radiance is missing from the sky, and so their colours have a muted presence, as though filtered through the stalks of wheat that saturate the landscape. Crucial alongside the film's photographers are composer Ennio Morricone – utilising a variation on the seventh movement ("Aquarium") in Camille Saint-Saëns's "Carnival of the Animals" suite – and a succession of sound editors, whose work brings a dreamy, ethereal edge to the vast fields of the Texas Panhandle. The film's final act, away from the wheat-fields, recalls Arthur Penn's 'Bonnie and Clyde (1967),' but otherwise Malick's style, contemplative and elegiac, is in a class of its own, more comparable perhaps to Kurosawa's 'Dersu Uzala (1975).'

Malick refuses to explore his characters' motivations. The viewer is deliberately kept at an arm's length, and Malick eschews cinema's traditional notions of narrative development. Instead, the story is told as a succession of fleeting moments, the sort that a young girl (the film's narrator, Linda Manz) might pick up through her day-to-day experiences and muted understanding of adult emotions. Note that the girl is always kept separate from the dramatic crux of the film – the love-triangle between Billy, Abby, and the Farmer – and her comprehension of events is tainted by her adolescent grasp on adult relationships and societal norms. I was reminded of Andrew Dominik's recent 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)' {another sumptuously-photographed picture}, which also refused to explore its title character, Jesse James, kept at a distance through the impartial objectivity of the historical narrator. In Malick's film, Linda's narration tells us one thing, and the viewer sees another. But one can never fully understand the complex emotions driving human behaviour, so perhaps the girl's perspective is as good as any other.

'Days of Heaven' derives its title from a passage in the Bible (Deuteronomy 11:21), and Malick's tale of jealousy and desire is suitably Biblical in nature. Essential to this allegory is an apocalyptic plague of locusts, which descend upon the wheat-fields like an army from the heavens. When the fields erupt into flame, quite literally from the broiling emotions of the film's conflicted characters, the viewer is confronted by the most intense manifestation of Hell-on- Earth since the burning village in Bondarchuk's 'War and Peace (1967).' But, interestingly, Malick here regresses on his own allegory: Judgement Day isn't the end, but rather it comes and goes. Life is driven by the inexorable march of Fate: The Farmer (Sam Shepard) is doomed to die within a year; Bill (Richard Gere) is doomed to repeat his mistakes twice over. In the film's final moments, Linda and her newfound friend embark purposelessly along the railway tracks, the tracks being a physical incarnation of Fate itself: their paths are laid down already, but we mortals can never know precisely where they lead until we get there.


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