Days of Heaven is a 1978 American drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick and starring Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard, and Linda Manz. Set in 1916, it tells the story of Bill and Abby, lovers who travel to the Texas Panhandle to harvest crops for a wealthy farmer. Bill encourages Abby to claim the fortune of the dying farmer by tricking him into a false marriage.
Days of Heaven was Malick's second feature film, after the enthusiastically received Badlands (1973), and was produced on a budget of $3,000,000. Production was particularly troublesome, with a tight shooting schedule and significant budget restraints. Additionally, editing took Malick a lengthy three years, due to difficulty with achieving a general flow and assembly of the scenes. This was eventually solved with an added, improvised narration by Linda Manz. The film was scored by Ennio Morricone and photographed by Nestor Almendros and Haskell Wexler.
The film was not warmly received on its original theatrical release, with many critics finding only its imagery worthy of praise. It was not a significant commercial success, although it did win an Academy Award for Best Cinematography with an additional three nominations for the score, costume design and sound. Malick himself won the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Despite initially unfavorable reviews, Days of Heaven has since become one of the most acclaimed films of the 1970s, particularly noted for its cinematography.
In 2007, Days of Heaven was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In July 2015, it was voted the 49th greatest American film of all time by BBC Magazine. The BBC also listed it in their 100 greatest American films of all time list.
The story is set in 1916. Bill (Gere), a Chicago manual laborer, knocks down and kills a boss (Margolin) in the steel mill where he works. He flees to the Texas Panhandle with his girlfriend Abby (Adams) and younger sister Linda (Manz),