Terence Malick's Days of Heaven
by Mike Dawson
Left Field Cinema
“The Magic Hour” also known as “The Golden Hour” are the two hours of the day when the sun is setting and rising; painting the sky, ground, objects and people with a sort of golden yellow hue, pronouncing shadows as the light hits everything at an angle rather than the blanket of light we usually witness throughout an average day. Softening light and enhancing colours through mother natures own form of diffusion. “The Magic Hour” will improve even a mundane image through what are considered to be idyllic and beautiful lighting conditions. No filmmaker has ever captured the intoxicating beauty of “The Magic Hour” as exceptionally as director Terrance Malick did with cinematographer Nestor Almendros in the 1978 production of Days of Heaven. Malick’s second film before his twenty-year hiatus from film making, but even the stunning beauty of his third film The Thin Red Line can not match the majesty of this most gorgeous of American films. This ranks amongst the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful film ever made. It may be clichéd to describe the imagery as such, but it is no exaggeration to say that every single frame of picture in the film is a potential still you could hang on a wall. Magnificently painterly and extraordinary to look at, but its dream like sensibilities are not limited to imagery and its beauty as a film goes beyond cinematography – it extends to every facet of the film – music, editing, pacing, plotting, and emotions.
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