Sunday, 3 November 2013

Days of Heaven

Days of Heaven – Terrence Malick – DVD – A love triangle that transcends to implicitly meditate upon more spiritual dimensions, exploring the vast American landscape with an eye for natural beauty. At times the sporadic childish voiceover feels unnecessary or occasionally misjudged. However, (without succumbing to knee-jerk Malick worship…as he does seem to be, arguably rightly, immensely and enduringly revered…see my excitable The Tree of Life review for an unmistakable rendition of Malick praise) the film creates an overarching wealth of imagery strong enough to forgive any petty criticism. The attention, care and genuine warmth towards the wildlife and landscape that surround the human tale illustrates Malick’s constant ability to harness chance. Capturing minor moments in visual asides, the film elaborates upon its narrative through unlikely manifestations: scampering birds, the chewing mandibles of a locust, stoic bison/buffalo…generically American bovine beasts etc. The billowing flames, as a field of crops is set alight amidst clouds of locusts is a particularly impressive visual sequence.

I feel that my enjoyment of this film would probably benefit from more viewings-to appreciate so many of the shots of a wild and pastoral American (somewhat idealized) landscape. Due to a potentially cynical mood, the continual plaintive glow of a stretching, deeply American wilderness got on my nerves…it seemed at times like the landscape was lent a wise nobility perhaps too earnestly simplified in humble appreciation…Basically I’m getting irritated at a director who seems to have a genuine compassion for earthly beauty and its transcendental qualities…Making me, by all accounts, a flawed and bitter being…. alas…. Maybe it’s landscape envy… if Malick had shot Days of Heaven in England (something no one is possession of any scrap of sanity would advise), the ‘magic hour’ serenity of flowing cornfields and iridescent skies would be replaced by drizzle, dogshit and a couple of hedgehogs (the voiceover now being supplied by Bill Oddie).  As an afterthought - comparing Malick’s landscape in Days of Heaven to Andrea Arnolds’ landscape in Wuthering Heights would be a fun exercise…one imbued with a near nostalgic twilight of wisdom, honesty and beauty…the other dripping and scratching with visceral handfuls of mud and rain. 7.5/10

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