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directed by Terrence Malick
USA 1978

 

One-of-a-kind filmmaker-philosopher Terrence Malick has created some of the most visually arresting movies of the twentieth century, and his glorious period tragedy Days of Heaven, featuring Oscar-winning cinematography by Nestor Almendros, stands out among them. In 1910, a Chicago steel worker (Richard Gere) accidentally kills his supervisor and flees to the Texas panhandle with his girlfriend (Brooke Adams) and little sister (Linda Manz) to work harvesting wheat in the fields of a stoic farmer (Sam Shepard). A love triangle, a swarm of locusts, a hellish fire—Malick captures it all with dreamlike authenticity, creating at once a timeless American idyll and a gritty evocation of turn-of-the-century labor.

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Theatrical Release: September 14th, 1978 - USA

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Comparison:

Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution Paramount Video - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 409 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 409 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:33:27 1:33:54 1:34:00.051
Video 1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.16 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 
1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.37 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

Disc Size: 47,242,482,400 bytes

Feature Size: 28,876,320,768 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.95 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Paramount

Bitrate:

Criterion

Bitrate:

Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)    English (Dolby Digital 5.1) DTS-HD Master Audio English 3737 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3737 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles French, None English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Paramount Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Trailer (2:11) 

DVD Release Date: December, 2000

Keep Case
Chapters: 10

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary featuring Weber, art director Jack Fisk, costume designer Patricia Norris, and casting director Dianne Crittenden
•  New video interviews with cinematographers Haskell Wexler and Bailey
• Liner notes booklet featuring essays by critic Adrian Martin and director of photography Nestor Almendros  

DVD Release Date: October 23rd, 2007

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 21

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Disc Size: 47,242,482,400 bytes

Feature Size: 28,876,320,768 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.95 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary featuring Weber, art director Jack Fisk, costume designer Patricia Norris, and casting director Dianne Crittenden
•  New video interviews with cinematographers Haskell Wexler and Bailey
• Liner notes booklet featuring essays by critic Adrian Martin and director of photography Nestor Almendros  

Blu-ray Release Date: March 23rd, 2010
Thick Transparent Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 21

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION- Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray  February 2010:  The flatter, softer DVDs give way to a glorious 1080P presentation of magnificent scene after breathtaking scene. This is one of those films that was meant for Blu-ray. The visuals rise to their intended position of majestic appearance. I've never seen Days of Heaven look so good. Colors are richer, black level deeper but the depth had me swooning at times. Gosh-darn this film looks so good at times. I'll let the screen captures below tell most of the story of the image quality. I was frequently blown away by the appearance.

Audio has a very healthy DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3737 kbps. In 'separations' it is always the subtleties that I appreciate the most and this has even minor gestures (wind, distant voices etc.) making their way to the rear speakers without overbearing power. The track has some strength but at the same time feels restrained - I liked it a lot. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

Extras duplicate the 2007 DVD with the fine group commentary and interviews (see expanded descriptions below) although video is in HD.

For many cinephiles Days of Heaven would have been a top 5 choice for release in this new format. The impressive visuals produce a high expectations in HD - and they are met with rapturous beauty. While early in the year - this will undoubtedly make for strong consideration for Blu-ray of the year 2010. Criterion have come through yet again. 'Essential' seems inappropriate - let's just say one of the most beautiful films ever made transferred to perfection in the best quality format available. Our highest recommendation!

***

ADDITION: Criterion - October 07': Firstly, the single-layered transfer from Paramount was actually quite strong for its time but in all areas the dual-layered, progressive Criterion has improved in their new package. Almendros' visuals can be so striking it can actually make the discrepancies that much more difficult to identify in the screen captures below. Sharpness may have the least superiority (although it is there) but colors, contrast and the minimalization of digital noise are readily easy to separate and identify. Without going into excessive detail - the director approved (actually - supervised and approved by director Terrence Malick, editor Billy Weber, and camera operator John Bailey) Criterion image is magnificent.

NOTE on framing: The Criterion appears to show more information on the left edge at times and the frame seems to have moved slightly downward in relation to  the Paramount. I found neither observation overly significant.

Audio is also a 5.1 track (as the Paramount) but to my ears sounded that much more distinct and buoyant. I have no quantitative way of defending these thoughts - but it is my honest opinion that the Criterion is better. It is supported by optional English subtitles - the Paramount offers only French.

Criterion have included some strong supplements. Firstly the commentary is excellent with input from Billy Weber, Jack Fisk, costume designer Patricia Norris, and casting director Dianne Crittenden. The ladies have some valuable production input including a neat story from Diane on how Malick wanted John Travolta to play the lead - feeling he had the human quality that he was looking for (even promising to ship him back for his 'Welcome Back Kotter' television scenes of that week). Weber emphasized how 'Terry' (Malick) seemed to inherently understand the parameters of the film stock better than anyone - including the cinematographer Nelson Almendros or even Kodak. It is a fairly relaxed commentary and some great facts are imparted about Alberta and the performers. A very enjoyable and recommended listen.

There are bits on 'Actors' - Gere (audio only) and Shepard (12 minutes of video) - I especially enjoyed Shepard's input and his expression of Malick's vision. There is a second section entitled 'Camera' with operators John  Bailey (about 20 minutes) and another with Haskel Wexler (12 minutes). Bailey focuses (no pun) on the use of 70's style with frequent hand-hand shots etc. Wexler exclaims praise for Almendros, the editing process and his impressions of Malick.

Criterion have added a 42-page liner notes booklet with color photos and essays by critic Adrian Martin and director of photography Nestor Almendros.

My final words will be a strong recommendation - close to a must-own for film fans. The ground-breaking 'magic time' visuals are discussed in detail in the supplements and this adds to the package's authoritative pluses. Tremendous DVD!              

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus

 

(Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

 
 
 
 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample (from the Criterion DVD)

 

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


More Blu-ray captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras:  Blu-ray / Criterion

 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution Paramount Video - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 409 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 409 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray



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