A Blu Days of Heaven at last

Days-of-Heaven bluOne of the films I always wanted on Blu-ray that I was never able to get was Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, released on Blu-ray by Criterion in the States way back in 2010. As usual with Criterion, the disc was region-locked and I’ve never owned a multi-region player during what was the Blu-ray generation, so that was that. Recently Paramount released an extras-free edition in the States; I’m not sure if it’s the same Criterion master, or if it was region-locked too- I think this edition was also released in France, which was region-friendly but not ideal language-wise (‘Les Moissons du Ciel’ would not look ideal on the shelf). 

By sheer chance though I stumbled upon news that Imprint, an Australian boutique label (a sort-of Down Under Indicator, by the look of it) has released Days of Heaven using the Criterion master and adding some new extra features of their own rather than try license any from Criterion (a new audio commentary, featurettes on the editing and score etc). Australia is UK-friendly Region B (I have a few Australian discs; I think Dagon was the last one I bought earlier this year), and even better, Amazon here in the UK even has it in stock. It costs rather more than most films -more than most 4K titles, even- but not a hell of a lot more than some recent boutique releases that are on the £25 mark- though to be honest, after waiting so long, I didn’t hesitate (had the Criterion it been region-free it would have cost me about the same anyway).

Cue Arrow or Eureka or MOC announcing their own UK release for half the price in the next week or two. 

Anyway, the disc arrived yesterday and it looks really nice- the first 2000 copies have a high-quality, thick-cardboard slipcover, the art on the slip and amaray case are both lovely (the only odd omission is the lack of any kind of booklet): what matters most though is what’s on the disc, and what a pleasure it will be watching this film again, on Blu-ray at last (I have a copy on DVD somewhere which is pretty horrible and can be consigned to the bin immediately). 

Days of Heaven is not my favourite Malick film -currently The Thin Red Line is, but my view may be revised once I watch this again, as I haven’t seen it in years and never really in very good quality. To be honest, Days of Heaven always kind of creeped me out, before. I think it was the haunting music getting under my skin (particularly its use of the “Aquarium” movement from Camille Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals). The main titles with that music playing over actual photographs from the turn of the century, setting the tone for the film and its  period setting, always just set my nerves on edge somehow like I’m watching a horror movie. I have the 2-disc FSM edition of the Morricone soundtrack and that often creeps me out too, weirdly. There is a strange, disturbing quality to the rather dreamlike film in general, the majority being shot in the magical ‘golden hour’ ensuring a particular atmosphere to the visuals to accompany that soundtrack. We’ll see how I find it this time around. 

But hell yeah- I have Days of Heaven on Blu-ray at long last. Maybe I could even find time for a double-bill of Malick’s Badlands (which I also have not seen in years) with Days of Heaven

7 thoughts on “A Blu Days of Heaven at last

  1. News this was coming passed me by. Imprint were exciting when they launched, but the cost of importing was prohibitive so I stopped paying them too much heed. Now I wonder if their titles have been readily available on Amazon UK all along — I just didn’t think to look there!

    Anyway, between discovering this and realising the Criterion is OOP, I felt compelled to order it too — because it’s not like I’ve already got a massive pile to watch and even more preordered… At least a UK label can’t release it now: I already took my hit for that kind of thing with The Great Silence! (That’s how it works, right? Right?)

    1. I dunno; someone will probably announce a 4K disc of Days of Heaven next week to really wind me up.

      I’d never heard of Imprint, looking at their titles I quite like the look of their edition of Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone, always had a soft spot for that film. Not certain its a £28 soft spot but I well remember the old UK VHS (and later on DVD if I recall correctly) being cut, as if the film was some kind of Video Nasty. Films like The Dead Zone, some of them get better with age; some of those films of the 1980s have fantastic casts.

      Here’s me trying to curtail disc purchases (still haven’t bought the 4K Indy or Star Treks) and I find some more, bad enough Indicator tempting me every month. Thank God the 4K Taxi Driver is buried in that expensive Columbia boxset so I don’t have to give it any thought; if that had been a standalone it would have been pre-ordered months ago, never mind all the copies of Taxi Driver on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray I’ve already bought (no such luck with the 4K The Thing, alas).

      1. I looked at the screen cap comparisons of the Treks the other day — makes me not want to watch my current Blu-rays (that I’ve not watched) and upgrade! Ugh!

        As for The Dead Zone, that’s just been re-released in the US too, with differing extras. I wasn’t sure which to plump for (never seen the film, but interested enough to take the punt), but the US release has a 4K scan of the negative vs Imprint’s 2K. I think it’s Region A-locked, though.

      2. You’ve never seen The Dead Zone? Ye gods, I’m shocked. Its weird sometimes the ones that somehow slip you by, isn’t it. I first watched it back in the VHS days and it remains one of my very favourite Stephen King films, the original book is very good and the film has a really tragic mood throughout, with a really fine Kamen soundtrack. Not sure how well the film has aged as I haven’t seen it for awhile but I’m certainly curious to watch it on Blu-ray. Pity Arrow never released it here, its right up their street.

  2. Matthew McKinnon

    By an odd coincidence, I just ordered Imprint’s ‘Drugstore Cowboy’ and ‘The Gambler’ from Amazon. I got their rare-as-hens-teeth ‘Hard Eight’ off eBay last year for an extremely lucky low price.

    1. I might end up buying their standard edition of Hard Eight, haven’t seen that film in years (I had it on R1 DVD many moons ago). What’s the image quality/special features etc like, any good?

      1. Matthew McKinnon

        The picture quality is good. Not as good as a brand new 4K scan might yield but still fine. Extras are excellent, the same as the old US DVD (which I lent to someone years ago and never got back). If you find it for a decent price, go for it.

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