Working along with this is Malick's usual affinity for having one of the characters provide narration for the film. The narration rarely recaps action onscreen, but rather takes on a more earthy and philosophical edge. It's as if we weave in and out of their inner monologue for glimpses of their reactions to the world. And all of these elements serve to give focus to the images onscreen. Whether conventionally descriptive, or more artistically abstract, there is a haunting beauty to each scene of Malick's films. They are paintings in motion; galleries with explanations along the way to guide your eyes through the story. And they are also brilliantly accessible. There is nothing abstract about the base stories he utilizes, but they are made richer through his styling. But far from style over substance, they are both. They are artistically crafted, but always to the end of enlivening our view of the world and the struggles of a broken humanity.
The Blu-ray edition of Days Of Heaven comes well after Criterion released the restored DVD counterpart, but there is an impressive amount of restoration visible over the prior Paramount DVD version. The video transfer here pays handsome tribute to the amazing cinematography of the movie. Even when the color palette is often pastiche - awash in fields of almost sepia-toned earth and tans - the detail of each shot is rewarding (with the exception of one oddly soft and overly grainy dusk scene). This is a beautiful film, and the high-definition transfer is top notch.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is strong, although by the nature of the film doesn't go out of its way to impress. Everything is appropriately spaced and some of the ambient nature sounds can be quite immersive. The dialogue tracks feel like they were recorded in various settings, and especially a couple of the narration segments feel overly wedged into the center channel. But I can only imagine that these are true to the source material. Overall, this is a very good audio track.
The bonus materials for this release are not overly abundant, although all are rich with quality content (something I can't often say for bonus materials). The lead item is a commentary track featuring editor Billy Weber, art director Jack Fisk, costume designer Patricia Norris, and casting director Dianne Crittenden. Although I was expecting something heavy on technical issues, it is a surprisingly well-balanced track. The specialties of those assembled combine to give a very thorough look at the film. Many have also worked on most of Malick's films, and thus speak to his style of directing in general.