Our very first Days of Heaven then and now (I am sure there will be more) interestingly and perhaps more so, strangely, takes in the ending scene from that movie. Sort of a backwards way to start a series, I guess, but what the heck. The filming location was Calgary’s Heritage Park, which we visit to see what’s changed, or not, since that scene was captured on film – and outside all those trees that have grown up since and a few other minor details, it is much as it was and is easily recognizable.
The film Days of Heaven (or simply DoH), shot in 1976 and released in 1978, was acclaimed director Terrance Malick’s second feature film. The movie, much of which was shot in and around southern Alberta, is set in the 1910s and follows a couple, Richard Gere as Bill and Brooke Adams as his girlfriend Abbey, along with Bill’s little sister, Linda (Linda Manz).
Bill is fleeing from the law after killing his boss. The group hops trains looking for agricultural work in towns along the way. Later, after a scheme to defraud a wealthy farmer fails, which culminates in his death, Bill, Abbey and Linda are again on the run. Later Bill is killed by police. Afterwards Abbey inherits some money and moves on, and Linda is enrolled in a girl’s school.
In the final scene Linda and a school mate, sneak out of the facility and wander about town. As the movie ends, they are seen walking away down the tracks, and then there is a fade to black and the credits. The then capture is just before that transition.
All the final scenes, this one and those in regards to the school were filmed in Heritage Park. Given the site is home to many old buildings and such, it’s a perfect venue for period movies.
The track seen comprises a larger loop around the grounds. The line directly in front is part of the wye (pronounced “y”) where the locomotives are turned around. Just behind our photography position is the Laggan Station (Lake Louise), one of three railway deports at the park.
Seen in front in both pictures is the Burnside Ranch house, once located near Cochrane and donated to the park in the 1960s. It’s a fine representation of what country life was like so many years ago. The only real change since the movie is the windmill which is no longer in place today.
Blocked by trees in our picture but clearly visible in the movie shot, is the former Shonts Alberta grain elevator. It’s been at the park since the later half of the 1960s and was one of over seventeen hundred small town grain elevators that once existed in the province (a couple hundred remain).
Heritage Park was established in the mid-1960s and is located on a peninsula of land jutting out into the Glenmore Reservoir. Over the years, it’s been built upon and added too, and is a wonderful place for those who like old buildings (most of which are fully authentic examples moved here, and not reproductions), machinery and the like and all things old. Visiting the park is like stepping back in time.
Days of Heaven is quite popular with film critics but is otherwise not widely known. It’s beautifully shot and IMO overall quite well done. Beside the Heritage Park scenes, Alberta shooing locations used include the ghost town of Whiskey Gap near the US border and a spot along the Oldman River near Lethbridge. Naturally, many of these places will become fodder for some of our trademark movie them and now posts.
We have somewhat of a connection with DoH. We worked on Malick’s latest work, Tree of Life set in the 1950s and starring Brad Pitt. Our company, which we closed a few years back, made women’s period undies, which we supplied to that film.
For the now shot I did not use my regular camera and instead shot with Connie’s. Not fully used to it, it’s new, I had trouble lining things up. Still, the results are not bad. Nor do they need to be perfect anyway, it’s not about that.
Image from the movie is copyright Paramount Pictures.
To see some of our favourite movie then and now posts, follow these links…
Legends of the Fall – then and now.
Silver Streak Movie then and now – walking the tracks.
Superman 3 then and now – Smallville.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: September, 2014.
Location: Calgary AB, Heritage Park.