AFI Movie Club: DAYS OF HEAVEN – American Film Institute

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AFI Movie Club: DAYS OF HEAVEN

Visually inspired by the artistry of Edward Hopper, Johannes Vermeer and Andrew Wyeth, DAYS OF HEAVEN chronicles the lives of migrant American harvest workers during a time of growing industrialization and stars Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard and a young Linda Manz. The film is directed by AFI alum Terrence Malick (AFI Class of 1969), shot by Academy Award®-winning cinematographers Néstor Almendros and Haskell Wexler and scored by the late great composer Ennio Morricone.

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DAYS OF HEAVEN – Reelgood

Watch actor Tim Blake Nelson announce DAYS OF HEAVEN:

 

Movie Trivia About DAYS OF HEAVEN

DID YOU KNOW?

The working title for DAYS OF HEAVEN was initially STAY HUNGRY. To capture the passing of seasons, the film was shot over the course of a year in Alberta, Canada.

DID YOU KNOW?

John Travolta was originally cast in the role of Bill, but when he had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict Richard Gere stepped in to play the part.

DID YOU KNOW?

Director Terrence Malick went to great lengths to re-create a pre-WWI era Texas harvest, even purchasing the rights to a farmer’s land and its crops, as well as using vintage wheat thrashing equipment from the Western Development Museum in Saskatchewan, Canada.

DID YOU KNOW?

To create the scenes in which the locusts destroy the farmers’ crops, a large net of peanut hulls was suspended from a helicopter and dropped over the field. When filmed in reverse, they look like a swarm of locusts taking flight.

DID YOU KNOW?

Linda Manz’s voice-over narration was ad-libbed in large part and edited down from 60 hours’ worth of recordings.

DID YOU KNOW?

After Linda Manz’s debut in DAYS OF HEAVEN and a small role in THE WANDERERS, she co-starred in OUT OF THE BLUE with Dennis Hopper and LONGSHOT with Leif Garrett. After marrying and raising children, Manz reemerged in small roles in Harmony Korine’s GUMMO and David Fincher’s THE GAME.

DID YOU KNOW?

The music behind the titles is “Aquarium” from Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Carnival of the Animals.”

DID YOU KNOW?

Ennio Morricone received his first ever Oscar® nomination for the DAYS OF HEAVEN score. None of his music was placed where it was written for except one music cue. According to editor Billy Weber, Morricone told Terrence Malick, ‘You can put the music I wrote anywhere you want in the picture. There’s only one piece…I don’t want you to move, and that’s the music for the wheat fire,” which Malick agreed to.

DID YOU KNOW?

Cinematographer Néstor Almendros only used natural lighting for exteriors when shooting DAYS OF HEAVEN and shot much of the picture during “magic hour.” Almendros won the Oscar® for Best Cinematography for his work on DAYS OF HEAVEN. The film also received nominations for Costume Design, Original Score and Sound.

DID YOU KNOW?

Cinematographer Haskell Wexler, who got an “additional photography” credit on DAYS OF HEAVEN, has said that more than half of the footage was shot by him. When Almendros and lead camera operator, John Bailey, had to leave to begin work on Francois Truffaut’s THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN, he convinced Wexler to step in and then spent a week working with him so that Wexler’s footage would match.

DID YOU KNOW?

Following the release of DAYS OF HEAVEN, Terrence Malick wouldn’t direct another film for 20 years, until 1998’s THE THIN RED LINE.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-The film is narrated by Linda, Bill’s younger sister. Why do you think Terrence Malick made this creative choice and what is the effect of having such a narrator who is growing up as the film progresses?

-How is the music in DAYS OF HEAVEN evocative right from the start? How does Morricone’s score enhance the sumptuous visual storytelling?

-How does Malick incorporate nature into DAYS OF HEAVEN and how has he sustained this transcendentalist tradition throughout his career?

-Why do Bill, Abby and Linda flee Chicago? What does the city from their past represent compared with the farmland of the Texas panhandle which they retreat to?

-How do you feel about the plot that Bill and Abby hatch when it comes to the farmer? Why does Abby decide to marry the farmer? How does Bill come to resent her afterward?

-Describe the stunning use of light in DAYS OF HEAVEN. How does shooting at magic hour enhance the cinematography throughout the film?

-Why do you think Terrence Malick took 20 years between DAYS OF HEAVEN and his next project?

-DAYS OF HEAVEN is often credited as one of the most beautiful films ever made. Do you agree?

-What is your favorite Terrence Malick film? How would you differentiate his classic films shot in the ‘70s, including DAYS OF HEAVEN and BADLANDS, and his resurgence in the ‘90s and contemporary work? Do you see a through line or a divergence in terms of the trajectory of his career?

-How would you rate DAYS OF HEAVEN?

​In this exclusive AFI Archive video, cinematographer Néstor Almendros talks about DAYS OF HEAVEN:

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AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

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Comments (1)

THOMPSON LIAM

RIP Linda Manz, who passed away on the day this was published.


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