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Badlands (1973)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 38,412 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 177 user | 125 critic | 12 from Metacritic.com

An impressionable teen girl from a dead-end town and her older greaser boyfriend go on a killing spree in the South Dakota badlands.

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Title: Badlands (1973)

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Kit
...
...
Ramon Bieri ...
Alan Vint ...
Deputy
Gary Littlejohn ...
...
Rich Man
Bryan Montgomery ...
Boy
Gail Threlkeld ...
Girl
Charles Fitzpatrick ...
Clerk
Howard Ragsdale ...
Boss
John Womack Jr. ...
Trooper
Dona Baldwin ...
Maid
Ben Bravo ...
Gas Attendant
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Storyline

Kit Carruthers, a young garbage collector and his girlfriend Holly Sargis from Fort Dupree, South Dakota, are on the run after killing Holly's father who disagreed with their relationship. On their way towards the Badlands of Montana they leave a trail of dispassionate and seemingly random murders. A very intriguing narrative without judgements, and lacking the usually sensational approach of this genre. Very good acting and directing, and beautiful photography. The script was based upon the true story of the Charles Starkweather and Caril-Ann Fugate murders in 1958. Written by Theo de Grood <tdg@xs4all.nl>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He was 25 years old. He combed his hair like James Dean. She was 15. She took music lessons and could twirl a baton. For a while they lived together in a tree house. In 1959, she watched while he killed a lot of people. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

5 January 1974 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

La balade sauvage  »

Box Office

Budget:

$450,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's tag line ("In 1959 a lot of people were killing time. Kit and Holly were killing people") inspired the Zodiac Killer (who'd been lying low for some years) to write a letter to the newspaper denouncing their flippant attitude to violence in society by running such an ad. See more »

Goofs

The passenger train that passes Kit and Holly on the trestle is pulling Amtrak cars. Amtrak was not established until 1971, and this film takes place in 1959. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Holly Sargis: [voice over narration] My Mother dies of pneumonia when I was just a kid. My Father kept their wedding cake in the freezer for ten whole years. After the funeral he gave it to the yard man. He tried to act cheerful but he could never be consoled by the little stranger he found in his house. Then one day hoping to begin a new life away from the scene of all these memories he moved us from Texas to Port Dupree, South Dakota.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in 'Catch Me If You Can': The Casting of the Film (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Musik zu einem Puppenspiel
[Music for a puppet play] (uncredited)
by 'Gunild Keetman'
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Meditative view of life, love, and death by Terrence Malick
8 November 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Badlands, based on the relationship between Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate (and later an inspiration for Tarantino's True Romance and NBK), never has a moment where something un-realistic curries. Writer/producer/director Terence Malick leads his film along with a true emphasis on both the psychological nature of Kit (Martin Sheen) and Holly (Sissy Spacek), and with the un-canny knack for a relaxing style in his camera. At best, Badlands is one of the successful homages to European cinema of the 1970's, something that will last a long time due to its pairing of absorbing art-house and (perhaps) mainstream sensibilities. At worst, a viewer could feel bored with Malick's intent on running with his poetic ideas as a director. If there was any pretentiousness at all, it went over my head; this is a film that draws you into its tragic nature.

Sheen and Spacek are totally believable as a couple on the run, as Kit continually has a trigger-happy attitude to people after he shoots Holly's father. While Spacek holds the heart of the picture steady, I'd have to say that Sheen's Kit is one of his best performances. He comes off in the perfect sense- you wouldn't think for a second that Kit could be a killer, that is until he pulls out his pistol. It works just as well that Holly is the narrator, so that the viewer can understand where Kit's coming from, and where he's going. If there is any distance between his character and the audience, there's still a strong, emotional connection through Spacek, and their bond as a loving, if dangerous, couple.

Overall, Badlands is extraordinary in a way that doesn't cram its atmospheric from start to finish on the audience, and it looks at young people in love, however in such twisted circumstances, in an honest way in how escalatory events create a disillusioned feeling in youth. That it's made on such a low budget gives it more merit. Kudos should go to the musical score by James Taylor, Gunild Keetman and George Tipton, too; it's one of the best debuts of the 70's. A+


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