Days of Heaven (1978)

Days of Heaven
Directed and written by Terrance Mallik
(number 421)

This is a weird movie. It’s kind of boring, it’s kind of predictable, it’s a little inscrutable and it has one of the least appealing narrators I’ve ever encountered. Abby, as played by Brooke Adams, is a drawling judgemental little girl who’s been adopted by Linda and Bill as they all roam homeless and looking for work in the dustbowl during the depression. It was hard to get a read on her as a character, which made it hard to relate or particularly care about the story she was ostensibly telling.

Richard Gere and Linda Manz carry the film as Bill and Linda, who decide to stay on at a very pretty farm so that she can marry the sickly farmer and they can inherit his money. Only just because a man’s sick doesn’t mean he’s gonna die really soon, does it? I found the tenderness between Linda and the Farmer kind of sweet actually.

The costume and set design was really lush, I loved the farmhouse. Every time there was a loving shot of it I was just gazing with hearts in my eyes like ‘waaaaaant’. Although I could do without the isolation of being in the middle of the fields/prairie/whatever that was. There was lots of nice landscape photography as well.

Is there anything creepier than the sequence with all the grasshoppers though? it was making my skin itch an crawl just listening to them, and all I know about how bad it is when grasshoppers land on a crop from reading the Little House books… I didn’t need the long drawn out sequence to know how bad it was. Eurgh.

Does it make me love the people? Ehhhh. I liked Linda I suppose, I found her the easiest to relate to for sure. She reminded me a lot of Parker Posey, and I enjoy her low gravelly voice quite a lot. She’s compelling to watch too, especially graceful when she dances.

I thought poor old ‘The Farmer’ Sam Shepherd was pretty hard done by, he’s pretty dishy and all, and he means well. I feel sad that the Farmer doesn’t even get a name. Is it meant to be an exaggeration of the class difference? Is it a way to force the character from the limelight? Because to me he’s a fully realised, sympathetic character in a crappy situation so I guess if Terrance really didn’t want us to empathise with him this is how it could be done. I still empathised with him, it’s hard not to when he’s described like “Wasn’t no harm in him. You’d give him a flower, he’d keep it forever.” Like, what a sweet guy!

Bechdel test: Yes, Linda and Abby talk lots times about random stuff – where they’re from, what a cigarette is, etc etc.

Best line:
Linda: Nobody’s perfect. There was never a perfect person around. You just have half-angel and half-devil in you.

State of Mind: I’m not too sure why this is on the 500 list, it was pretty enough but I feel like there’s better examples of pretty much everything this film does. Yes, we get that life was hard back then, yes it’s very sad to love someone who loves someone else, but generally I didn’t enjoy it and I doubt I’ll watch it again.

Watched movie count


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