Film: Days of Heaven

Nobody's perfect. There was never a perfect person around. You just have half-angel and half-devil in you.

A 1978 Terrence Malick film considered by many to be his Magnum Opus, at least until The Tree of Life.

Set in 1916, a steelworker named Billy (Richard Gere) kills a foreman out of anger. Fearing reprisals, he runs away with his sister Linda (Linda Manz) and girlfriend Abby (Brooke Adams). Pretending that Abby is his sister so as to avoid gossip, Billy and his crew hitch a train to the Texas panhandle, where they find work in the wheat fields of a rich but sick farmer (Sam Shepard). When the farmer falls in love with Abby, Billy convinces her to marry him, thinking that he will die within the year and they can inherit his money. Of course, things don't work out quite so well...

While critics were unable to figure it out when it was released, it has gone on to be considered one of the greatest films of all time, praised for its lush cinematography and meditative, haunting tone.

This Movie Contains The Following Tropes:

  • Creator Breakdown: Supposedly because of the stresses of making this movie, Malick took a twenty-year hiatus from films until returning for The Thin Red Line.
  • The Danza: Linda, played by Linda Manz.
  • Doing It for the Art: Malick, to the extreme. All in all the film took five years to complete.
  • Excuse Plot: Why do they pretend to be siblings? So we can have a movie.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: For lack of a better term. Linda's voiceovers both comment on what's happening storywise and veer off into philosophical rambles. Reportedly, Malick didn't script the narration. He showed Manz the film and had her speak (in character) into a microphone whatever came to mind as she watched it.
  • No Name Given: The farmer, the foreman...pretty much every character apart from the three leads, and even they aren't given last names.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Happens a few times, particularly with Brooke's Chicagoan accent
  • Scenery Porn: Many arguments could be made that this is THE most beautiful film ever shot
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The farmer vs. Billy
  • Troubled Production: From That Other Wiki:
    The production was not "rigidly prepared", allowing for improvisation. Daily call sheets were not very detailed and the schedule changed to suit the weather. This upset some of the Hollywood crew members not used to working in such a spontaneous way...Some crew members said that [cinematographer] Almendros and Malick did not know what they were doing. Some of the crew quit the production...the rest of the production was difficult from the start. The actors and crew reportedly viewed Malick as cold and distant. After two weeks of shooting, Malick was so disappointed with the dailies, he "decided to toss the script, go Leo Tolstoy instead of Fyodor Dostoevsky, wide instead of deep [and] shoot miles of film with the hope of solving the problems in the editing room." In addition, the harvesting machines constantly broke down, which resulted in shooting beginning late in the afternoon, allowing for only a few hours of daylight before it was too dark to go on. One day, two helicopters were scheduled to drop peanut shells that were to simulate locusts on film; however, Malick decided to shoot period cars instead. He kept the helicopters on hold at great cost. Production was lagging behind, with costs exceeding the budget by about $800,000, and Schneider had already mortgaged his home in order to cover the overages. The production ran so late that both Almendros and camera operator John Bailey had to leave due to a prior commitment on François Truffaut's The Man Who Loved Women. Almendros approached his friend and renowned cinematographer Haskell Wexler to complete the film. They worked together for a week so that Wexler could get familiar with the film's visual style. Wexler was careful to match Almendros' work, but he did make some exceptions. Though half the finished picture was footage shot by Wexler, he received only credit for "additional photography", much to his chagrin.
  • What Could Have Been: Malick originally wanted John Travolta for the role of Billy.