As much as I love watching Days of Heaven, I dread having to write about it. The experience of seeing Terrence Malick’s masterpiece invariably leaves me awestruck and overwhelmed, and gushing is not criticism. So much has been written about Malick and his movies, much of it effusive and insightful, that anything else one has to say seems little more than an affirmative echo. It’s always a shock to discover that Days of Heaven runs a mere 94 minutes; its scale is so impossibly vast, its perspective so breathtakingly cosmic, that wrapping your arms around it seems a fool’s errand. But if Malick’s movie tells us anything, it’s to be humble in the face of the monumental. There will be no attempt at converting the skeptical here, nor any pretense of comprehensiveness. All I offer here are fleeting recollections, an image here, a sentence there, a performance—a handful of things that this appreciative viewer treasures most about Days of Heaven, now available in a director-approved Criterion edition.
Click here to read Elbert Ventura’s review of Days of Heaven, now out on a newly restored Criterion DVD.