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A few words about...™ Days of Heaven -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#1 of 29 Robert Harris

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Posted February 28 2010 - 01:47 AM

My initial exposure to filmmaker Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven was in the fall of 1978.  As I watched this extraordinary work for the first time in a 70mm 6-track magnetic print on a huge screen, I was in awe, enthralled by the images, the sounds, the textures of the work. To this day, it reverberates as one of my greatest moviegoing experiences.

Over the years I've seen it change, occasionally losing its way in less than stellar transfers.  A few years ago Paramount removed the original negative from the safety of its vaults and after getting the color timing in place, struck a new protection interpositive. During timing at least one print was struck from the original negative, which went to The Academy Archive.  I was fortunate enough to attend a screening of this print, along with my son (as a first time viewer), and the impact was as great as it was thirty years earlier.

In the fall of 2007, with the blessing of Paramount, Criterion released Days of Heaven on DVD.  Transferred from the new interpositive, the transfer was approved by Terrence Malick, camera operator John Bailey ( cinematographer in his own right), sitting in for the great Nestor Almendros, who passed away in 1992, and for good measure, editor Billy Weber.

Finally, watching the new Criterion Blu-ray release on a large screen, is as close as one can come to seeing the film on a crisp, newly minted 35mm print.

Much has been written about the film during the past three decades.  I find myself returning time and again to the words by Roger Ebert for his Great Films series, in which he explains why and how the film works, as seen through the eyes of a young teenage girl, played by Linda Manz.  

Mr. Ebert writes, "What is the point of ``Days of Heaven''--the payoff, the message? This is a movie made by a man who knew how something felt, and found a way to evoke it in us. That feeling is how a child feels when it lives precariously, and then is delivered into security and joy, and then has it all taken away again--and blinks away the tears and says it doesn't hurt."

Mr. Ebert's work may be found here: http://rogerebert.su.../401010327/1023

Days of Heaven is a quintessential Malick tone poem, created via cinema.  It is about as perfect a piece of pure cinema as one is apt to find, and is supported and rendered to perfection by Criterion's new Blu-ray release.

A perfect film, magically transported to Blu-ray as a perfect disc by a group of technicians who love and respect film.

If one only purchases five Blu-ray discs in 2010, this should be one of them.  It belongs in every serious library.

Extremely Highly Recommended.

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#2 of 29 ccfixx

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Posted February 28 2010 - 02:36 AM

Come March 23rd, make no mistake about it... this title will definitely be in my collection, Robert.

CC

Blu-Rays Owned:
245 Films
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#3 of 29 David Wilkins

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Posted February 28 2010 - 03:41 AM

 Color me ecstatic.

#4 of 29 Dick

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Posted February 28 2010 - 03:43 AM

I have lauded and championed this film since first seeing it in a small in dependent cinema in 1979, and was aghast at the way it was first brought to video (the muddy, smeary, awful-looking VHS, and the pan and scan laser disc). The remastered laser was widescreen and an inprovement almost by default, but I yearned for something that might even slightly resemble my cinema experience with this awesome movie. The original Paramount DVD was okay, and I brought that copy for signing to the Waterville (Maine) Opera House reception the year that Mr. Malick was given his "Midlife Achievement Award" here after he introduced us to a nice 35mm print of DAYS OF HEAVEN. (Incidentally, this festival, which runs for ten days every summer, is worth your attention if you can travel to it. Durting its annual run about sixty independent and foreign films are screened, and one major luminary from the pool of indie directors and cast members is invited to join in. Sissy Spacek, Ed Harris and, last summer, Arthur Penn were honored).

I guess what I'm trying to relate is that DOH is and will always be in my personal top ten of favorite films, and the one which I consider to be about the most beautifully-photographed 95 minutes I've seen (and I've seen BARRY LYNDON and THE DUELLISTS and all the rest). I am biting myself waiting for this Blu-ray. Thanks for your input, Mr. Harris. I hate wishing my life away to reach a date I look forward to, but these are going to be three long weeks.


#5 of 29 Vincent_P

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Posted February 28 2010 - 05:31 AM

I can't wait for this.  Now all we need are quality Blu-rays of BADLANDS and THE THIN RED LINE.

Vincent


#6 of 29 David_B_K

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Posted February 28 2010 - 10:03 AM

I'm gonna have to have this one.


#7 of 29 lukejosephchung

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Posted February 28 2010 - 11:22 AM

I'll be looking for this at my local Blu-ray outlet in 3+ weeks!!!


#8 of 29 Chuck Mayer

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Posted February 28 2010 - 01:45 PM

Yup, this will be 50% of Malick's work in Blu Ray.  Hopefully, The Tree of Life will shake Badlands and The Thin Red Line loose.  What a film, what a filmmaker.
Hey buddy...did you just see a real bright light?

#9 of 29 Robert Harris

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Posted March 02 2010 - 01:15 AM

Thin Red Line may be next.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Mayer View Post

Yup, this will be 50% of Malick's work in Blu Ray.  Hopefully, The Tree of Life will shake Badlands and The Thin Red Line loose.  What a film, what a filmmaker.


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#10 of 29 Chuck Mayer

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Posted March 02 2010 - 02:25 AM

Robert,
Would The Thin Red Line be a Criterion release?  It wasn't before.  I'd prefer all of his films to get the CC treatment, but I'm not expecting it.

Still, great news.  John Toll was the cinematographer for The Thin Red Line, and that movie is stunningly beautiful to look at.
Hey buddy...did you just see a real bright light?

#11 of 29 snudley

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Posted March 02 2010 - 02:32 AM

Robert,

  I also saw this film upon it's release in a 70mm presentation with the Dolby sound, and it left an impression that I can't overstate.  I seem to remember the sound aspects as clearly as the images for some reason.   I was a bit disappointed in the Criterion DVD, so my hopes are high for the blu.

 -- On a side note, as a young film student I made a trip to Austin (where I now live) for a special effects seminar in the mid-seventies and a local film maker asked our group to attend a preview screening of his new movie to get our opinions.  It was Badlands, and Terrence Malick watched it with us.  That experience, needless to say, also made an impression.

Timothy


#12 of 29 Robert Harris

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Posted March 02 2010 - 04:17 AM

I'm unable to think of a single piece of film that ever ran through Mr. Toll's camera that wasn't "stunningly beautiful" in one way or another.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Mayer View Post

Robert,

Still, great news.  John Toll was the cinematographer for The Thin Red Line, and that movie is stunningly beautiful to look at.


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#13 of 29 RolandL

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Posted March 03 2010 - 02:15 AM

I remember being on vacation in San Francisco and Days of Heaven was playing in 70mm 6-track stereo surround at one of their wonderful old theatres. I don't remember the name of the theatre but, you had to take a escalator to get to the theatre. It was a memorable experience.




Roland Lataille
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#14 of 29 Peter Neski

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Posted March 03 2010 - 05:57 AM

while I can't wait for this BR,I wish it wasn't just a BR upgrade of the wonderful Crit DVD,Yes it was wonderful,but I wish
they could scap up some more extras,the stars are still around and a real documentry would be great,even if Matlick
wasn't included,
The transfer is super,But having seen this film many many times in the theatres(Back when you could) I think
some scenes are faded,and a couple of these faded scenes can be seen in the Old laser disc,while overall no
match for new transfers it did have some nice things here and there,mostly to do with color

The HD Badlands looks fantastic and I wish they would release it on BR

#15 of 29 Douglas_H

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Posted March 06 2010 - 07:55 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Harris View Post

Thin Red Line may be next.



 
God I hope you're right. One of my favorites.



#16 of 29 Paul Rossen

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Posted March 06 2010 - 09:53 AM

I too saw DAYS OF HEAVEN in 70mm 6 track stereophonic sound during its original run in NYC.  In fact I was so impressed by what I saw and heard went to see it a second time.  Unfortunately neither the Paramount nor Criterion DVD versions were satisfactory especially in the sound.  I'm hoping that the Blu Ray corrects this ....

#17 of 29 Peter Neski

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Posted March 07 2010 - 06:13 AM

Now if they can't only do the only other film thats on that level when it
comes to visual talent    "The Spider's Stratagem "

#18 of 29 Vincent_P

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Posted March 25 2010 - 03:06 PM

I dunno if it's my system, but this Blu-ray-  while it certainly doesn't look bad-  left me a little disappointed.  And no, I'm not talking about "3-D pop" or any of that crap, but to my eyes there was too much edge-enhancement-  especially in wide shots-  and the image overall looked to suffer from a bit too much digital filtering and manipulation.  It just lacked that completely analog and truly detailed "film look" that the best Blu-rays in my collection reproduce so well.

Vincent


#19 of 29 Jon Lidolt

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Posted March 27 2010 - 05:15 AM

 I just watched my Blu-ray of Days of Heaven last night and have to agree. I was expecting something eye-poppingly wonderful and for me it just didn't deliver. Could it be because I still have memories of being spellbound by a 70mm presentation on a huge screen during the film's first run? 

Maybe I'm simply expecting too much from Blu-ray. On the other hand, my Blu-ray of The African Queen looked better than it ever did in a theatre. And that includes both dye transfer and and Eastmancolor prints. 


#20 of 29 Michel_Hafner

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Posted May 02 2010 - 07:04 AM

Maybe you just saw what I saw and did not fully realize what bothered you. The transfer could have been superior, if they only had kept their fingers away from the sharpness knob. They didn't, and the result is often a hard image with nasty artifacts around high contrast edges. I'm sure it's delicious on smaller monitors. Projected 3.5m wide it's a frustrating experience. You can see what easily could have been but is not. And for no good reason at all. Pity.






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