Days of Heaven (1978)

Days of Heaven (1978), written and directed by Terrence Malick.

After killing a man in a Chicago steel mill, Bill flees with girlfriend Abby and kid sister Linda to the wheat fields of the Great Plains. He and Abby will pretend to be brother and sister, a trick pulled more than once in Genesis (and we even have a plague of locusts later).

A rich farmer doesn't have long to live; why shouldn't Abby marry him so they can get his money after he dies? What could go wrong with that plan?

Malick's second film, this is a cinematography showpiece with gorgeous images throughout. Maybe too beautiful for the story, leading us to suspect we are about to see an epic tale. It's a simpler plot only 94 minutes long.

Many scenes set during "magic hour" just around sunrise and sunset. It has a look both beautiful and real, reminiscent of Heaven's Gate (1980).

Malick is also fascinated by wild things: the poor creatures of the fields, fish in the streams, plants sprouting underground.

Ennio Morricone's score nicely captures the romantic period of Saint-Saëns and Debussy. Leo Kotke is credited with "additional music", probably fiddle tunes.

Haskell Wexler claimed to have shot over half of the film but is credited only as "additional photographer". In an extra he doesn't seen bitter.

Filmed in Alberta. They started farther south but delays forced them to follow the harvest north.

Available on Criterion Blu-ray with a commentary track by crew members. They all portray Malick (everyone calls him "Terry") as an eccentric genius who knew film stock better than the cinematographers, better than Kodak.

They also say:

Several good extras, including one by Richard Gere. He is thoughtful and well-spoken (more so than playwright Sam Shepard!)