Steered by Terrence Malick, Days of Heaven is an affirmative piece of masterwork, set in the dawn of the twentieth century in America. Malick qualifies in presenting the then weird conditions of America that fueled economical change. The film sets in during a time when industrialization was on the rise.
It is a time when people were yearning for the long-awaited days: the days of heaven, when the world was to take a new shape of economy. Marxism theory underscores the theme of this movie that, social conflicts between the rich and the poor fueled the social change that America underwent along her the path to capitalism.
Malick successfully creates a picture of a society that bears two categories of people, powerful (the owners) and the powerless (the workers). Abby and her Boyfriend Bill exemplify the powerless class while the wealthy lonely owner of a wheat farm stands in for the powerful lot.
This follows since the two poor jobless lovers end up seeking refuge from the rich farmer. According to them, he is more powerful than they are. Worth noting is that the two groups of people are not depicted with equal attention. The powerless class draws lesser attention from the movie compared to the powerful.
For instance, Linda says “…we used to roam the streets. There were people suffering of pain and hunger. Some people their tongues were hanging’ out of their mouth” (Malick). These words are symbolic in that, they refer to the poor countries that end up in crises, only for the powerful countries like America to ignore their cries. However, when the reverse occurs, all of them must respond. I admire the Bourgeoisie because this group stays on top of the world watching the others serve under its commands.
On the other hand, the proletariat class is subject to sympathy because it has to struggle to cope up with the standards of the former group. In fact, Dirk asserts, “The foreman, riding in a buggy, chides everyone to work hard, while the owner sits in a padded chair in the middle of a field” (Para. 14).
The powerful people have their power because they own vast lands and are rich. However, they deny it to others in fear of competition as well as the fear of losing the work force, which they get from the powerless class. Malick symbolically shows a fight between Bill, a worker, and a wealth man to show that this power comes through violence.
Concerning the then distribution of power and wealth,the 1916 setting of this movie tells it all. It pictures America as the only powerful and wealthy nation assuming the front line in World War I. The author provides sufficient evidence of conspicuous consumption.
The film is set in a time when electricity and expensive things were rare. ”…the owner sits in a padded chair in the middle of a field” (Dirk Para. 16). The workers, earning $3 a day cannot afford a padded chair; therefore, the owner only intents to show his wealth, hence a conspicuous consumption.
The society brought to light by the author value things to convey their social status and not their usefulness. The scenario between the farmer and the workers exemplifies the social value this society places on things as opposed to their usefulness. The farmer owns a gothic mansion but when the workers are tired of working in the wheat farms, they can only camp outside the star-lit night and not in the mansion. It is of no use to them.
The work done by the powerless lot is not a product of the culture that produces it. The taking by force of poor Bill’s girlfriend by the rich man symbolizes how the culture on study delights in things from elsewhere and not in its own products. Bill bases his decision to persuade his girlfriend to fall in love with the rich man on material rather than spiritual reasons. The two want to benefit economically from the wealthy man.
The characters employed in the film picture two different social classes. There is the class of the poor workers like Bill, Abby, and Linda and that of the wealthy men like Robert Wilke, the rich rancher. The two classes are in a struggle with each other. Each class wants to develop itself economically.
For instance, Bill tells his girlfriend never to give up the fake love affair because he knows what he expects in return. “Just have to get fixed up first. Things are not always gonna be this way” (Malick). On the other hand, Abby feels oppressed following the advantage that the rich man makes out of her, which is no more than a manipulation of workers. It is worth noting that this bourgeoisie lot manipulates the less powerful through religion. For instance, Linda says, “Unless one is…saved by God’s mercy in heaven…” (Malick).
The powerful lot wants the less powerful people to think that it can save them if they serve it but Linda comes in to declare God as the only savior of humanity. There is a sufficient evidence of alienation and fragmentation in the film when the workers are warned not to enter in the owners’ houses. As the films unfolds, when Bill protests against the charges subjected to Abby because of her poor work, he fears being fired showing how the working class admits their powerlessness.
The Days of Heaven is a must-watch masterpiece for any person interested the economic history of the current powerful countries like America. People tend to think that the power that America boasts today came in overnight; however, Malick shows the struggles and conflicts Americans faced as the economy walked down the path to capitalism. It is an informative piece of composition.
Dirk, Tim. Days of Heaven Review, 2004. Web. 14 Feb. 2011.
Malick, Terrence, dir. Days of Heaven. Twentieth Century Fox, 1978. Film.