Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Days of Heaven

Have you ever wanted to see what it might have been like back in the early 20th century? Well "Days of Heaven" easly transports the audience back to the thos rolling hills of wheat and grain loacted in the Texas panhandle. "Days of Heaven" is a romantic drama art film written and directed by Terrence Malick.  Although the characters in the film seem to be the main focus of the story, it is the cinematography of the film that truly captures the emotion and beauty of the story.

Days of Heaven’s cinematography is beautiful! Technically speaking, the film has many cinematographic aspects. With tremendous pans across the vast empty wheat fields. These are combined among fluid tracking shots, close-ups, and even time-lapse photography. Most of Days of Heaven was filmed during the early morning or late evening right before the sun had set, during what became known as "magic hour.” This was done to capture the silhouettes of the farm. Even the simplest shots had gorgeous detail and looks like it was preserved in a time capsule from the early 20th century.

According to Almendros, the cinematographer of the film, he wanted to make a very visual movie. Almendros would go through hours just waiting for the sun to come up or go down to hit the “magic hour.” They happen to rehearse for hours through out the day that was not during this magical hour. Almedros also wanted to not only recreate the landscapes, he wanted recreate similar dynamic lighting when shooting inside buildings. “In this period there was no electricity. It was before electricity was invented and consequently there was less light. Period movies should have less light. In a period movie the light should come from the windows because that is how people lived.” (Almendros)


Although the film got a bad rap for when it was first released, it did win an Academy Award for Best Cinematography with an additional three nominations for the music, costume design and sound. Malick himself won the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Despite initially unfavorable reviews, Days of Heaven has since become one of the most acclaimed films of all time, particularly noted for the beauty of the cinematography. In 2007, Days of Heaven was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

To film the scene with the locusts, where the insects rise into the sky, the filmmakers dropped peanut shells from helicopters. The actors had to walk backwards while running the film in reverse through the camera and achieve the effect. When it was projected, everything moved forward except the locusts.

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