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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Days of Heaven

6 September

This 'new digital restoration' from the British Film Institute of a title from 1978 is what the Arts Picturehouse, the BFI and the festival are all about : the opportunity to see something that is only just being premiered or has otherwise not been easily obtainable.

The feature itself was, for me, a bit like a fairy tale - it appears, although not accurately in terms of any correlation between what the images show us and what the voiceover seems (or seeks) to tells us about the underlying situation, to be the narration of a 12-year-old girl, but, for my mind, not nearly as cleverly as in the case of the narrator of Haneke's The White Ribbon.

The person with whom I watched it - and the lobby card, issued with a still (not, as I recall, a scene from the film as screened), bears this view out - commented that there were people in rags posed against the stunning landscape in neat array, and even the rags were beautifully done. Maybe that is part of the fairly tale, the mystification and magification of the (to my mind) somewhat unlikely series of events that unfolds:

If it hadn't come first, one could have sworn that Days of Heaven was playing with the theme of Indecent Proposal - as it is, given that Demi Moore in the latter film bears what I would say is more than a passing resemblance to Brooke Adams (playing Abby), I wonder whether there was a tribute being paid, and, if so, how many spotted it at the time. Certainly, as to the result of these interactions (on the world and the characters), one thinks inevitably of Exodus (if that isn't the young girl's wishful thinking of vengeance, stirred up by some religious teaching to which she makes reference), or even Genesis and the garden of Eden, but, with what one source states is a quotation from Leviticus.

Maybe, maybe not, and with the Bonnie and Clyde tone of part of the close of the film, one isn't exactly encouraged to dwell on it, or, with that strand, how Abby seemingly ends up unscathed and able just to disappear from sight (unless, again, as a fairy-tale fictionalizing, where actions don't necessarily have consequences).

What did, though, for me give the greatest reward, other than the photography of wide skies, are the minute depictions of nature (locusts, otters (?), pheasants, and so on), which are interspersed with (what one would assume is) the main action, and which, with the adept editing, give it richness and texture, and, even, a hint of heaven.

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