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sixteenmiles's avatar

sixteenmiles

Some thoughts on Badlands: https://16miles.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/badlands-1973/

This begins a Terence Malick love affair that will stretch for decades.

Badlands is a film of strange personal morality. A beautiful road movie through the waste of America, following the killing spree of two drifting souls. Holly and Kit are creatures of vague motivation. Bored of the tedium of civilisation they break out into the wilderness in a violent spiral towards death. Framed in the macro-beauty of nature.

For Holly it is unclear why she is so willing to follow Kit down this path of self-destruction. This is no Mickey and Mallory relationship. It becomes clear these characters hold no true love for each other. Only an interest (or fascination?). But for Kit it is about forging an element of fame or iconography of himself. He leaves a constant trail of ‘himself’ as they go. A trail of his morality, recording messages to tape for potential child fans who look up to him as an idol. “Listen to your parents and teachers. They got a line on most things, so don’t treat em like enemies.” he says. This whole ordeal is a quest to find importance. To impart a mark on the world.

Kit punctuates each action with strange justification and reasoning that Holly accepts. She doesn’t question him, but doesn’t understand him either. The two blaze out into this personal heaven, knowing that it is all temporary. Knowing and preparing for the explosive end.

Malick as a director has a way of splashing human brutality onto the frame of nature. A film about killing where the takeaway imagery is an aching, fading sun through grass and leaves. Badlands marks the beginning of Malickian cinematography. Film-makers have imitated and emulated this aesthetic style (but never as well) to an extent where it has become pastiche. But it began here.

This is a beautiful film about brutal, disconnected people.
6 years 1 month ago
Dieguito's avatar

Dieguito

Impressive debut of Terrence Malick!
8 years 2 months ago
Jonas2k's avatar

Jonas2k

Beautiful cinematography.
9 years 2 months ago
mayumi's avatar

mayumi

Sissy is so lovely
9 years 6 months ago
ClassicLady's avatar

ClassicLady

A love story for the wild teen in all of us. Great cinematography. Martin Sheen was so cute when he was young!
7 years 7 months ago
samfenn's avatar

samfenn

Very interesting.
8 years 2 months ago
MilenaFlaherty's avatar

MilenaFlaherty

Somehow this film became unchecked. A stunning film. Malick's first two films are both in my all-time favorites list.
7 years 2 months ago
Siskoid's avatar

Siskoid

Terrence Malick's first feature, Badlands, already shows off his trademark ability to find the poetry in moments, places, and characters. Though only loosely based on a famous late 1950s killing spree perpetrated by teenage Bonnie and Clyde types, it's so rich in detail as to feel like Malick really is working off the girl's naive, lyrical impressions. I really don't know where reality stops and the movie begins, but what Malick seems to have seized upon is the real-life fact that Starkweather - here, Carruthers - was just the nicest guy... except for the wanton killing. Martin Sheen's portrayal manages to walk that tight rope, and in some ways, he's just as naive and innocent as Sissy Spacek's Holly Sargis (in real life, Caril Ann Fugate). This is a sweet romance, with many images that evoke drifting, following a current rather than following any true motivation, to see where it gets us. A sweet romance... but for the wanton killing. One of the musical cues in the film turns up some decades later in True Romance, which made me go, "ahh, I see what Tony Scott did there". A gorgeous, enigmatic picture about reckless youth, at the border between the western's outlaw hero tradition and the modern crime picture so important in '70s independent cinema.
1 year 1 month ago
george4mon's avatar

george4mon

very very good!!!
9 years 10 months ago
Deus's avatar

Deus

Great
10 years ago
thyron's avatar

thyron

Like Bonnie & Clyde without the politics.
3 years 2 months ago
BigAwesomeBLT's avatar

BigAwesomeBLT

A great looking film but not much else there otherwise.
5 years 11 months ago
heat_'s avatar

heat_

For such a movie minimal working on the characters. Slightly overrated movie, can be watched for being the director's debut.
4 years 8 months ago
newvague's avatar

newvague

I have never cared less about two main characters.
7 years 4 months ago

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