Days of Heaven

Director: Terrence Malick


In the early 1900s, Bill (Richard Gere) has an argument with the foreman in a Chicago steel foundry and then flees with his lover Abby (Brooke Adams) and sister Linda (Linda Manz) aboard a train carrying migrant workers to Texas and the wheat harvest. Once the threesome arrive in Texas, Bill and Abby take work on a farm whose young owner (Sam Shepard) soon shows an interest in Abby. Learning that the farmer has only months to live, Bill persuades Abby to encourage him. The two are eventually married, but events do not follow the expected course.
A plot synopsis does scant justice to Malick’s distinctive approach to storytelling, which displaces straightforward narrative exposition with a wealth of detail—verbal and visual intimations of expectancy and wonder. Our only guide to motives and intentions is Linda’s commentary, and this childish perspective adds to our continuing sense of the mysteriousness of events. The film’s awesome visuals hark back to the glory days of silent cinema and conjure up the myths man has always told himself about the natural world.

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