Existence and the American Dream: Part 1, by Rudie Obias

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2 Responses

  1. Max Mayo says:

    I wanted to say that i really enjoyed this piece and am looking forward to the next installments! I like a lot of what you said and I wanted to discuss one point you made that I think I see things differently on.

    In your second to last paragraph you discuss the notion of attaining “real success” in America by taking advantage of people. The idea that hard work alone isn’t enough to climb the ladder.

    Now I’m definitely not disagreeing with that idea, but is that what Malick is really trying to say here? In the end, although Abby’s intentions were poor and misguided, she ends up actually caring for and possibly loving The Farmer. And consequently, Bill murders (again) and ends up paying for this crime with his own life. Is it fair to say that Abby really took advantage of The Farmer? And did Bill ever really achieve the American Dream?

    My answers would be no and no. I think the ending is indicative of another Malickian theme: Nature’s indifference to the successes and failures of Man. Because like you said, Nature isn’t what destroys Man in this film. Nature just goes about it’s business. Locust’s business (among other matters…) is to feast and destroy some wheat fields. And the Field’s business is to grow more wheat in the coming seasons, long after they have been burnt by Man. Nature holds no grudges, and it certainly doesn’t care about men trying to achieve the American Dream; it just “is”.

  2. Rudie Obias says:

    I feel no one is ever clean in “Days of Heaven,” no matter if their intentions are good or bad. I believe Malick is trying to say that finding the American Dream is a fool’s errand because in the end, nature will always win. But what is really important to Malick, I feel, is what is worth fighting for, or at least, examining what is worth fight for.

    I will be getting into this more in my next essay on “The Thin Red Line.” And because of Malick’s themes throughout his film, I feel he is an interesting and completely American filmmaker (emphasis on the American part).

    Thanks for reading!

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