One 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…