A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
It's the late 1950s. Mid-twenty-something Kit is a restless and unfocused young man with a James Dean vibe and swagger which he has heard mentioned about him more than once. Fifteen year old Holly has a somewhat cold relationship with her sign painter father, if only because she is the primary reminder of his wife, who died of pneumonia when Holly was a child. The two meet when Holly and her father move from Texas to the small town where Kit lives, Fort Dupree, South Dakota. They slowly fall in love, something about which she cannot tell her father because of their age difference and Kit coming from the wrong side of the tracks. When he tries to take Holly away with him, Kit, on an impulse, shoots her father dead. After letting the initial emotions of the situation settle down, Holly decides voluntarily to go with Kit, they trying to make it look like they committed suicide in a house fire. But they soon learn that their plan did not work, there being a bounty on their heads. As such,... Written by
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 »
In one of her voice-overs, Holly refers to the "mountains of Saskatchewan". There are no mountains in Saskatchewan, although there is a Mt. Saskatchewan in the Rockies. See more »
[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.
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It's really a shame that Terrence Malick didn't have the brilliant career he deserved at Hollywood. Shot with a nearly shoestring budget, "Badlands" remains one of the most dazzling debut movies of all time. Malick's legend based on his (long) absence has helped it to become a cult-movie. Inspired by a tragic short news item which took place in 1959 (a young couple who decides to commit a series of free murders to leave a mark in history), the odds are that Malick's first feature-length movie inspired Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino for their dangerous and irresponsible "Natural Born Killers" (1994). Concerning Tarantino, I read an interview about him in which he expressed his admiration of Malick's work. It shows that the author of "Pulp Fiction" (1994) has a great esteem for this talented and mysterious film-maker. At the same time, we can also note down that Malick's work inspired Bruce "the Boss" Springsteen two songs: "Badlands" on his "darkness on the edge of town" album (1978) and "nebraska" on the eponymous LP(1982).
An American journalist had written that "Badlands" was the best mastered movie in the history of cinema since "Citizen Kane" (1941) by Orson Welles. One can judge this affirmation as exaggerated but it is nevertheless indisputable that Malick's opus strikes on numerous aspects: an assertive and opaque story, a fluid making, a relevant screenplay, an original photography which gives to the landscapes an image of desolation and lost paradise perturbed by a free violence. The work is also strongly steeped in a certain poetry.
Concerning the two main characters, a French critic had written that it was difficult to feel liking for these two irresponsible. I think that this critic badly analyzed the film. Terrence Malick doesn't try to make them likable to us. He describes them without kindness and condescension. They haven't got an imposing personality and live only through an intermediary myth. It is particularly obvious for the young man (Martin Sheen) who is obsessed with James Dean. One can also say that Sissi Spacek's voice-over which tells this dramatic story is of an amazing neutrality. Then, unlike many criminal lovers, Sheen and Spacek will live at the heart of this violence and the latter won't bring them together or take them away.
With "Badlands", Malick was judicious for the choice of the actors. In a way, his first movie enabled to put Sheen and Spacek on the map and it also launched their respective careers. Then, what happened to Terrence Malick after this sensational debut movie? A second movie, "Days of Heaven" (1978) starring Richard Gere as successful as "Badlands". After that, for twenty years, nothing. However, in 1998, Malick made a rather successful come-back with "the Thin Red Line" (1998). According to the latest news, he would currently shoot a movie about the first years of America's colonization in the beginning of the seventeenth century. If my memory serves me well, the movie will be released next year. Let's hope so...
Like this?try these....
"gun crazy" ,Joseph H.Lewis ,1950
"you only live once" Fritz Lang,1936
"Bonnie and Clyde" Arthur Penn,1967
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