Days of Heaven is a 1978 American romantic period 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 Badlands (1973), and was produced on a budget of $3 million. Production was particularly troublesome, with a tight shooting schedule in Canada in 1976 and significant budget constraints. Additionally, editing took Malick a lengthy two 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 NÃ©stor Almendros and Haskell Wexler.
Days of Heaven received positive reviews on its original theatrical release; its photography was widely praised, although a small number of critics considered only this aspect to be worthy of high praise. It was not a significant commercial success, but did win an Academy Award for Best Cinematography along with three nominations for the score, costume design and sound. Malick also won the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Days of Heaven has since become one of the most acclaimed films of its decade, noted particularly for its cinematography. In 2007, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". It continues to appear in polls of the best films ever made, and appeared at #49 on a BBC poll of the greatest American films.