‘A Hidden Life’: A Film for the Season

For over 10 years at Ripple Effects around this time, I’ve a Christmas post entitled Reading the Season. That’s when I post a book or collection of poetry that I find relevant for Christmas. This year I’ve something different. It’s a film that could offer some quietude among the cacophony of the season.

I first saw A Hidden Life at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. It’s now showing in selective cities.

**

Written and directed by Terrence Malick, A Hidden Life is the story of an unsung hero, Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), a conscientious objector who refused to take the oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler to fight for the Nazis in World War II, for he saw Hitler’s war unjust and evil.

A Hidden Life
Valerie Pachner and August Diehl in the film A HIDDEN LIFE. Photo Courtesy of TIFF.

The title alludes to George Eliot’s ending of Middlemarch:

…for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

A quest for spiritual meaning is the signature of the reclusive director’s works. They are often expressed in whispered voiceovers from the characters, revealing their doubts and questions, anguish and insights.

Days of Heaven (1978) establishes Malick’s aesthetic style of using natural light to shoot his films, every frame exudes cinematic poetry. The Thin Red Line (1998) begins his signature whispering voiceovers to express inner thoughts and spiritual quests. But it’s The Tree of Life (2011) that makes such whispers monumental as Malick situates the microcosm of a Texan family within the cosmos, and asks questions of the Creator the problem of pain and death, the struggle with human nature, with love and hate, and despite all human failings, the presence of grace.

Since The Tree of Life, Malick has produced several ‘misses’, films that are not well received as they are elliptical and experimental but visionary no less. To the Wonder (2012), Knight of Cups (2015) and Song to Song (2017) all point to one common quest: in the materialistic world of the rich and famous, what makes life meaningful? And, can true love be found?

A Hidden Life is Terrence Malick back to his form in a more traditional style of filmmaking, and more explicitly spiritual as he tells the story of a faithful, historic figure, Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter of St. Radegund, a village in Upper Austria. Before Germany’s ‘annexation’ (Anschluss) of his country, family life is blissful and easy for Franz. He farms the land among natural vistas, stays rooted in a close-knit community, happily fathers three young daughters, and is deeply in love with his wife Fani (Valerie Pachner). The arrival of a conscription letter in 1943 changes everything.

Franz knows he cannot join Hitler’s military, but the refusal to do so means certain death and the risk of endangering his family. He struggles hard to deal with the dilemma and seeks guidance from his Catholic church, but his priest tells him patriotism is what’s demanded of him. His village folks ostracize him; the mayor urges him to comply with Hitler’s demand, for one traitor among them can endanger them all. But Franz stands his ground even with the consequence of execution, a stance reminiscent of the Christian pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer who died under Nazis hands for refusing to let Hitler’s doctrine to supplant his church.

In this way, A Hidden Life offers an opposite stance different from Martin Scorsese’s Silence (2016), adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel. Here we have a courageous conscientious objector willing to suffer the loss of everything and the risk of harm to his family and kinsfolks in defying a ruthless ruler. A Hidden Life is a real-life testimonial of a believer while in the face of persecution, still refuses to step on the Nazi fumie to renounce his faith.

After incarcerated in the German military prison near Linz then transferred to Berlin to await trial, Franz is allowed to write one letter to Fani every month. The love the couple share in the film has its basis on these poignant letters which have since been compiled and published by Orbis Books. Franz’s absence from home brings Fani back-breaking hardships on top of social ostracizing. Her mother and sister come to live with her to offer whatever support they can give.

Capturing mainly natural light for his filming, Malick contrasts the idyllic family life in the beauty of the natural landscape of Franz’s home setting with the harshness of his imprisoned existence. What’s more tortuous though is his internal struggle. While in prison, his captor Captain Herder (Matthias Schoenaerts) says to him: “What purpose does your defiance serve? No one knows about you.” Yet Franz is convinced that his action isn’t to please others or to glorify himself, but to do what’s right in the eyes of his God. Franz’s own hidden spiritual life empowers him to stay strong.

In his trial, again he is being challenged: “Will anyone outside this court hear you? No one will be changed.” Yet he says nothing in his own defence, an allusion to the One who had stood trial in front of a ruler and said nothing in the face of death.

In a voiceover we hear these inner thoughts, Franz’s words to Fani:

“Time will come when we’ll know what all this is for, and why we live.”

There are plenty of quiet moments, long takes and slow pacing for viewers to think and ponder. The 174 minutes of screen time offers an opportune respite from the hustle and bustle of the Season, a quietude to evaluate, if you will, now that we’re at the end of another decade and in a time of tumultuous change.

The soul-stirring music is another reason to sit down in the theatre and quietly let the story unfold. Film composer James Newton Howard has created a full orchestral score complementing the cinematography, not only in capturing the beauty of the vistas but in his own words: “… to focus on the emotional journeys and crises of conscience of the characters—writing music to reflect their story.” Listen for the solo violin representing the sentiments of Franz and Fani, masterfully played by the Canadian violin virtuoso James Ehnes.

What’s hidden could be more precious, like treasure in jars of clay. And these words came to mind as I give A Hidden Life further thoughts:

… we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

~ ~ ~ ~ Ripples

 

***

 

Reading the Season Posts:

2018: Madeleine L’Engle’s Poem The Irrational Season

2017: A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

2016:  Silence by Shusaku Endo

2015: The Book of Ruth

2014: Lila by Marilynne Robinson

2013: Poetry by Madeleine L’Engle

2012: Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis

2011: Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle

2010: A Widening Light, Luci Shaw

2009: The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle 

2008: The Bible and the New York Times by Fleming Rutledge

2008: A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis

For my review of The Tree of Life and Silence, click on the links embedded in the titles.

 

Original Screenplays Written Directly for the Screen: What to Watch in November and December 2019

The Academy has separate award categories for writing: Screenplay adapted from another source and screenplays written directly for the screen. My last post is a list of movie adaptations coming out this fall/winter. In this post is a list of some highly anticipated features based on an original screenplay, all poised for the Awards Season, eyeing the 2020 Oscars race.

 

1917

1917.jpg

Director Sam Mendes takes a fragment of a story his grandfather Alfred Mendes had told him and wrote this original screenplay. During WWI, two young privates (one apparently represents his grandfather) race against time to deliver a message deep into enemy territory to save 1,600 British soldiers from heading into a death trap. In real life, Alfred Mendes was given a Military Medal for his bravery in taking up the mission voluntarily. So, the movie has a particular personal meaning for the younger Mendes. The Oscar winning director (for American Beauty) has an exceptional track record of top features including Bond movies Skyfall, Spectre, and the adaptation of Richard Ford’s Revolutionary Road. In 1917, Mendes has a stellar cast to work with, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Richard Madden, Mark Strong. Roger Deakins just might get another Oscar nom for cinematography.

 

A Hidden Life 

A Hidden Life

Here’s another hero’s story but of a very different nature. This time in WWII during Nazi occupation of Austria. Franz Jägerstätter is a farmer in a small village, leading a simple and idyllic family life. Everything changes when he’s conscripted to serve in the German army. Jägerstätter refuses to take the oath of loyalty to Hitler as he considers Hitler’s war unjust and evil. Not a pacifist, but a conscientious objector due to his Christian faith. The consequence of refusing to take the oath is death. Director Terrence Malick after The Tree of Life offers us a poignant and beautiful meditation on this hidden hero, bravery no one would have noticed, on the contrary, bravery that is met with spite and hatred even by his own village folks. I watched this at TIFF and can attest that these could well be the most meaningful 3 hours in this holiday season.

Harriet

Harriet.jpg

Yet another hero’s story. Harriet Tubman escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad and became an abolitionist and leading ‘conductor’, helping many slave families to freedom. During the American Civil War, Tubman worked for the Union Army in various capacities. Director Kasi Lemmons researched and wrote the screenplay with Gregory Allen Howard. This is the kind of movies where historical facts and dramatization would usually come under scrutiny. In an interview with IndieWire, Lemmons has made this statement: “Of course I embellished, I’m a screenwriter… I added to the story because anybody that’s a writer that approaches a real story has to embellish.” Cynthia Erivo plays Harriet, Leslie Odom Jr. and Joe Alwyn co-star.

 

The Aeronauts

the-aeronauts.jpg
British duo Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones reunite for another scientific venture after their Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of EverythingThe Aeronauts has these two stuck in a hot air ballon 40,000 ft. above ground. The movie is loosely based on the real-life feats achieved by James Glaisher and Henry Tracey Coxwell, who, in 1862, flew higher into the atmosphere than anyone had ever done before. For story appeal, Coxwell is replaced by the female balloonist Amelia Rennes. Looks like the dramatization of historical discoveries and scientific breakthroughs has developed into a genre of their own, such as The Current War, The Imitation Game, and Hidden Figures. Directed and co-written by Tom Harper. In N. American theatres Dec. 6 then on Amazon Prime Video Dec. 20. But looks like this one should be watched on the big screen.

Marriage Story

Marriage Story.jpeg
Back on the ground, a very realistic depiction. Noah Baumbach has written an insightful script on the dissolution of a marriage. I watched this at TIFF. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson deliver a superb performance as a couple going through a divorce. You’d think the process involves the husband, the wife, and the child only. But no. It looks like the lawyers are the major players in our adversarial legal system. Things get much more complicated and pricier than the couple have first thought and uglier than they’d wanted to go. Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, and Alan Alda are the lawyers, solid casting. A strong Oscar hopeful. After a limited release in theatres, this will go straight to Netflix.

The Two Popes

The Two PopesFor originality of a screenplay this probably is a good example. Imagine the conservative Pope Benedict XVI meeting the relatively more progressive Pope Francis I as they hang out with each other, a few years before Francis became Pontiff. Maybe a get-to-know-you, pre-screening interview for the Pope-in-waiting. Anthony Hopkins plays the conservative and Jonathan Pryce, the liberal. Helmed by acclaimed Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles whose past works include the Oscar nominated City of God and The Constant Gardener where Rachel Weisz won her Oscar. Screenplay by Anthony McCarten, 3-time Oscar nominee for Bohemian Rhapsody, Darkest Hour, and The Theory of Everything. Again, Netflix will have it after a limited theatrical run in December. 

 

 

 

 

***

 

Related Posts:

Movies Based on Books in Nov. and Dec. 2019

David Copperfield: From Book to Film

Downton Abbey the movie not just for fans

Thoughts on Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups

In the beginning was The Tree of Life.

That was the first work of divergence in the enigmatic director Terrence Malick’s body of work. His first four films spanned three decades–Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998), The New World (2005)–productions that adhered to a relatively conventional storytelling approach, albeit still marching to the beat of his own drum. Then came six years of silence.

In 2011, we saw a new cinematic form come out. The Tree of Life emerged like a new life after a long metamorphosis. It was genre defying, with real and imaginary visuals replacing narrative plots, voiceover replacing dialogues. Dually cosmic and realistic, it boldly explored subjects that spanned eternity, from the Creation to the Afterlife. The story focused on a small Texan family during the 1950’s. The latent conflicts and tensions in the family’s relationships, father, mother, husband, wife, sons, brothers, brought forth a series of existential questions. Whispers of inner anguish, doubts, faith, and the search for redemption fill the movie theatre.

I was stunned by Malick’s audacity. This wouldn’t sit well with critics or viewers alike.

Apparently the thought of rejection didn’t bother the auteur, for the next year saw a repeat of the style. For those who thought The Tree of Life was only a one-time experiment were met with the confirmation that yes, this is Malick’s new cinematic style. To the Wonder is another film seemingly devoid of plot, a visual poetry of love, loss, and the human soul. We see again more voiceovers replacing dialogues, characters drifting through dreamscapes. The Tree of Life was only the beginning. Malick has created a new form of cinematic storytelling.

Then came Knight of Cups in 2015. The director that had taken thirty-two years to make his first four films gives us a trilogy of thought-provoking, genre-defying features in just four years. Knight of Cups is slowly trickling into limited screens this spring, but only an ephemeral appearance. In selective cities, it came quickly and was gone. The movie industry is big business, and box office sales is the bottom line, a fact that doesn’t seem to be a concern for Malick.

Knight of Cups.jpg

Knight of Cups starts off with a parable. A knight sent by his father, the King of the East, went into Egypt to find a pearl from the depths of the sea. But when the prince arrived the people poured him a cup that took away his memory. He soon forgets his identity and his mission to look for the pearl.

The allusion to Pilgrim’s Progress is also invoked. From that, we know the tale of one man’s escape from the City of Destruction and his quest to search for the Celestial City.

Visually on screen, an earthquake shakes up a sleeping man. We later learn that he is Rick (Christian Bale), a successful screenwriter in L.A., well networked with the rich and famous of Hollywood. Rick is roused up from the quake, tiptoes barefoot through shattered glass to get out into the street, an apt metaphor of his life, fragmented, broken like the debris on the ground.

Thus sets the stage as we follow Rick into the high life of Hollywood: parties, night clubs, Gatsby-esque wildness of L.A. and Las Vegas. The film cast interestingly is made up of well-known names from Hollywood (bravo at the parallel). Through all these, Rick appears aloof, a stranger in his own land.

Ummm, not unlike Camus’s outsider.

His agent tells him: “I want to make you rich. All you need to do is say yes. Who do you want to meet? I can arrange.”

Almost as close as another such luring promise… “all this I will give you, if you bow down and worship me.”

 But the outsider is a tormented soul desperately seeking meaning, not riches or fame. Ambivalent relationships with a skid row brother and a father (Brian Dennehy) who is in turmoil living through the suicide of another son are the slings and arrows hurled at Rick. “I died a different way, “ we hear him say.

Women? Six of them, at one time or another. Played by Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Freda Pinto, Imogen Poots, Teresa Palmer, Isabel Lucas. They appear as vignettes, drifting in and out of his life; not all in waste, each has something to offer. One of them has uttered:

“We’re pilgrims on this earth. We’re not leading the life we’re meant for. We’re meant for something else.”

Or take his ex-wife Nancy (Cate Blanchett), a benevolent doctor who works with the poor. She could have been an inspiring figure, but they had to part. “I just want to be loved,” she says.

Of course, Rick can’t give what he doesn’t have. He too is searching for that powerful love that can complete him.

“Redeem my life… Justify me,” we hear Rick’s voiceover, a thirst which no human can quench.

He must rouse up from his sleep. Remember who you are and your mission. Remember the pearl? Go look for it. “How do I reach you? How do I find my way there?”

I’m glad from the fragments of internal dialogues, I can hear some positive words: “God shows His love through suffering… He leads you through. Regard them as gifts… more precious than happiness… Be thankful for suffering.”

Who would have thought? The reverse of common sense? But then again, how true. 

“You gave me peace, mercy, love, joy. You gave me what the world can’t give.”

Accompanying all these voiceovers is the captivating cinematography. It is interesting to see how three consecutive Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant 2015, Birdman 2014, Gravity 2013) converts soulful anguish onto the screen with lyrical, visual metaphors and well-paced changes of scenes. Faster paced for the ephemeral hedonism, slower for the meditative and transcendent.

The transporting effects are made complete by the musical score. Yes, that’s one of the main reasons I’m so mesmerized by Malick’s recent films. Knight of Cups has a long and expansive playlist with over 50 titles. Among them are these stirring pieces that capture my full attention, Wojciech Kilar ‘s “Exodus”, Arvo Pärt’s “Symphony No. 4 Los Angeles” and the film composer for Malick’s previous two works, the New Zealand born Hanan Townshend’s musical creations.

But one melody stands out and with the scenery on screen stirred me the deepest.

Now what’s the name of that piece? The music overwhelms me with a kind of existential longing, pathos, and deep resonance. 

Yes, got it. I later found out from the movie soundtrack, it was Solveig’s Song from Grieg’s “Peer Gynt”. I made a quick purchase and downloaded the tune and have been listening to it ever since. Like the effect of Smetana’s “The Moldau” in The Tree of Life, I know it will remain in my mind for some time to come.

That’s the reason I still go to the cinema. In that pitch-dark and relatively empty (what do you expect) theatre, I can sit quietly, watch, listen, and think.

~ ~ ~ 1/2 Ripples

***

Related Posts on Ripple Effects:

The Tree of Life Movie Review

Days of Heaven

 

A Sequel to Days of Heaven, Mr. Malick?

It has been over thirty years since you directed the cinematic “Days of Heaven” on location here in Southern Alberta. The four-foot tall wheat in the massive field near Lethbridge was the main attraction I understand. So it’s been decades now, lots have changed. But as to this relatively pristine province of Alberta, I can say the land is still wide and the sky still blue after all these years.

As I was driving through the open country a couple of weeks ago, I was captivated by, no, not the wheat fields, but the rapeseed farms (a better term is canola). The colour was brilliant yellow, equally cinematic as the golden wheat fields. A thought came to me…

Mr. Malick, how about coming back for a sequel to your beautiful film “Days of Heaven”?

Here are some sights I took in on that brilliant mid-summer day:

And if you need a location scout…

***

All photos on this post are taken by Arti of Ripple Effects in July 2011. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

To read my review of Days of Heaven, CLICK HERE.

To read my review of The Tree of Life, CLICK HERE.

The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick

(It is impossible to review The Tree of Life without writing about what it is about, hence: Spoiler Alert for this post.)

“The Tree of Life” is the fifth feature film in the forty-year career of the reclusive director Terrence Malick. It received mixed reactions at the Cannes Film Festival in May this year. There were boos and applause. That it finally won the top prize at the festival, the prestigious Palme d’Or, indicates which side was gratified. But, it is a film that needs to be experienced personally before one takes side, and maybe seeing it more than once.

Watching the film is an experience in itself. It starts off with this quote from Job 38: 4 and 7:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? When the morning stars sang together
 and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

With this premise, the film pours forth mysterious yet majestic visual sequences depicting the cosmos, our molten earth, prehistoric era where dinosaurs roam, early life forms, the roaring ocean, blood streams, fetal heartbeats. The first part.

Upon such visuals we hear a voice over:

There are two ways through life — the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way…

From the macro scale of the universe we now focus on the micro, something with which we can identify, a family. We see it from the point of view of Jack O’Brien (Sean Penn). An architect now, Jack is haunted by memories of his past, in particular, the death of his younger brother at age 19. We see scenes of his parents receiving the bad news. We hear his yearning for the people he loves through his whisper in voice over: ”Brother, mother.” We are then privy to Jack’s childhood days in 1950’s Texas.

From the O’Brien family we see how grace and human nature play out. Jack’s childhood in Waco, Texas, begins in innocence. With a capable father (Brad Pitt) and an almost angelic mother (Jessica Chastain) who is loving, nurturing, grace manifest, young Jack’s (Hunter McCracken) early days are blissful. Two younger brothers later, the siblings form a close bond. But as the boys grow older, the father becomes stern and strict, callous with his sons, demanding total obedience, expecting love where the seeds of fear are sown. From this character, we see human nature manifest in its destructive, self-seeking mode.

Other incidents further shatter the once blissful young life. Jack goes to town with his mother and brothers, he sees a crippled man make his way awkwardly across the street. He also witnesses the unlawful being arrested. While at the swimming pool, he watches a boy drowned despite frantic rescue. We hear young Jack’s whisper in voice over: “Was he bad? Where were you? You let a boy die.” The problem of pain, suffering, and evil begin to churn in his mind. Direct questions to God, not unlike Job.

Watching his father’s harsh handling of his sons, young Jack slowly discovers that he himself too has the latent capacity to not just think, but to commit wrongs, “I do what I hate.” In a moving scene, after he has hurt his little brother, Jack becomes remorseful and asks for forgiveness. We see the power of love at work. We also see his innocence slowly taken over by conflicts in his heart, love and hate, good and evil… grace and nature.  The second part.

Jack’s father loses his job and the family has to leave town. The uprooting is the most painful the boys have experienced. Everything is lost, it seems, friends, the house, the neighborhood, memories, … But among the loss, we hear the graceful voice of Jack’s mother: “The only way to be happy is to love. Unless you love, your life will flash by… Do good, wonder, hope.” Yet poignantly, she experiences the most devastating blow later, the death of her own son. We hear her heartbreaking whisper in voice over: “Where were you? Did you know?” Again, reiterating the questions that were on Job’s mind.

But ultimately light takes over darkness. We are assured that all is not lost. We hear Jack’s yearning whisper, like a prayer: “Keep us, guide us, to the end of time.” In the eternal scheme of things, shown by the display of the magnificent cosmic visuals, we see all members of the O’Brien family reunite and bathed in a warm bright light. Jack once again embraces the ones he loves, his mother and his brothers. He also stands shoulder to shoulder with the one who has inflicted in him the mixed emotions of pain, anger and love, his father, now reconciled under the brilliant light.  The third part.

Yes, we have the big names. Sean Penn as adult Jack appears only sporadically. Brad Pitt nails his role as the stern and difficult father. The relatively new film actor Jessica Chastain is grace embodied. In an interview she recalls that director Terrence Malick had asked her to watch a lot of Lauren Bacall movies to prepare for her role. But the most impressive of all is Hunter McCracken playing young Jack. The casting is brilliant here. His mesmerizing portrayal of a conflicting boy incubating the later character of a tormented adult Penn is deeply moving, a reflection too of Malick’s sensitive direction. As with his other films, cinematography is superb. You’ll have plenty of time to savour the long sections of cosmic and natural wonders.

“The Tree of Life” is for the patient viewer. It is a slow movie, and rightly so. You have to take the two hours and eighteen minutes as a respite from your busy schedule, and experience the film as a quiet meditation on life, family, God, and relationship with Him. It is also a portrait of love, faith, doubts, and promise. It poses questions in whispers, and answers with majestic visuals in silence, and at times, in engulfing themes of torrential music. Smetana’s “The Moldau” still flows through my mind at 4:30 a.m.

Boos or applause, what does it matter? To quote Bresson: “All is grace.”

~ ~ ~ ~ Ripples

***

 

CLICK HERE to read my post on another Malick film, Days of Heaven (1978), which won an Oscar for Best Cinematography.

Days of Heaven (1978) by Terrence Malick

It all began when I watched the “The Tree of Life” trailer in the theatre. I was mesmerized. A few seconds into the trailer I decided it would be a must-see for me. Then later it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival on May 22. I’m now catching up on Terrence Malick’s previous works before “The Tree of Life” screens here in our city in a few weeks time.

The reclusive auteur Terrence Malick has only made five feature films in his directing career which spans four decades: Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978, Won Oscar for Best Cinematography), The Thin Red Line (1998, seven Oscar noms), The New World (2005), and The Tree of Life (2011, Won Palme d’Or at Cannes, so far). His academic background in philosophy at Harvard and later as a Rhode Scholar at Oxford has found its expressions in his cinematic creation.

“Days of Heaven” in the Criterion Collection is a fantastic restoration and transfer. I watched it on the DVD. I suppose the Blu-ray would be even more spectacular. Some call “Days of Heaven” one of the most beautiful films ever made. Well, I haven’t seen all movies ever made to say that, nevertheless, of all that I have seen, such a statement is certainly not an exaggeration. Using mostly natural light, every shot is cinematic poetry. Enthralling scene sequences joined together to produce a piece of artwork that speaks the quiet, and sometimes silent, language of visual eloquence.

Written and directed by Malick, the film is nostalgically set in the 1910’s. The story is about Bill (Richard Gere), a hot-tempered steel mill worker in Chicago, who has to flee after an altercation leaving a man dead. He and his lover Abby (Brook Adams), and his younger sister Linda (Linda Manz) run away together and end up working in the harvest on a Texas farm. Pretending to be Bill’s sister, Abby is soon courted by the farmer (Sam Shepard). Overhearing that the farmer has only a year to live due to an illness, Bill persuaded Abby to marry the farmer so they can inherit his properties after his death. Every choice has its consequence. The plot unfolds in intriguing ways. Biblical parallels are deftly embedded in the scenes, Abraham and Sarah, the plague of locusts, Linda’s voice over allusion to the apocalypse… not just offering stunning images but thought-provoking as well.

And I must mention, I have a connection to the movie. It was shot right here in southern Alberta, and some scenes right here in Calgary, in Heritage Park to be exact. No, I wasn’t an extra. But proud that this regarded by some as one of the most beautiful films was shot entirely on location here in this province. It is the magnificent expanse of Alberta’s wheat fields and not those in Texas that we see in the film. The reason: from the DVD commentary I learn that the wheats were four feet tall in Alberta while those in Texas were only two feet.

 

 

 

 

***

CLICK HERE to read my review of The Tree of Life (2011) by Terrence Malick.

CLICK HERE to my post “A Sequel to Days of Heaven, Mr. Malick?”

Photo Source: Screenmusings.org. Use as per outlined in Fair Use, for review and educational purposes only.