Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Light and Days of Heaven

Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven (1978) is one of a handful of touchstone films for me. I would guess I've watched it at least ten times -- first on DVD and now on Criterion blu-ray. The DVD transfer was quite good, but it's no surprise that 1080p HD brings out another dimension. One of the things it does is allow the grain of the film to be seen, which is especially important for a film shot as naturalistically as this one was.

Most of Days of Heaven was shot out of doors against the majestic skies and wheat fields of Alberta, Canada (standing in for the Texas panhandle). Often, Malick and crew would wait for the "magic hour" just before dusk to shoot. More often than not they managed to catch lightning in a bottle and it's no accident that Days is among the most visually beautiful movies of all time.

Here's an interesting clip with John Bailey talking about the use of light. Back then he was a camera operator working under the aegis of esteemed Spanish DP Néstor Almendros. Bailey would go on to have a distinguished career in his own right. His memories of working on the film are accompanied by some of those beautiful images.

No comments: