Days of Heaven

Days of Heaven ★★★★½

What a film! It’s a romance of Old Testament scale complexity, but director Terrence Malick avoids the melodrama that seems inevitable to the plot by giving us two other equally compelling elements: the landscape of the Texas panhandle, and Linda, the solemn and observant little sister/narrator.

Linda Manz’s gorgeous Chicaaahgo accent and sparse, poetic diction save her “kid-perspective” from being naïve or saccharine; indeed, as a narrator, she’s wiser than her character while still speaking from her character’s present innocence. Huh? Yeah, I don’t know how it works either, but boy does it work. Both her voice and the ever-present fields manage to shift the focus of Days of Heaven from the love-triangle itself to the ways these characters are shaped by the embodiment of both good and evil that they experience from one another.

I’ll say it again: what a film. Watch it, go and read about Malick’s process of making the movie (especially the story behind the addition of the narration), and watch it again, because as much as this is an engaging story, it’s a movie that also draws us into contemplation and awe of the act of (film) creation itself.

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