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Badlands (1973)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 39,161 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 180 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

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 Huggo

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Badlands (1973) received a place in the film reference book "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die". See more »

Goofs

The soldiers at the end are using M16 rifles, although they were not adopted by the U.S. Military until 1962. 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

Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.19 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Trois Morceaux En Forme De Poire
Erik Satie
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Landmark film. One of the best directorial debuts
3 June 2005 | by (Iceland) – See all my reviews

Kit is a garbage man, Holly just a teenager living with her father. Kit and Holly get together and Holly's father disapproves. Kit kills Holly's father and together they go on the lam and a few others get killed in the proceedings.

This 1973 landmark film was the directorial debut of one Terrence Malick. It's been described by many as one of the most mature debuts in film history. The numbness of Sheen's and Spacek's characters is haunting and makes a very strong point and it's very hard to swallow. Spacek's voice-over, which tells how she experiences life with Kit, is disturbing and yet, poetically beautiful. The sheer innocence of her character, her bright-eyed view of the world, her acceptance of Kit's explanations make a stronger point in the examination of two completely alienated individuals than any other movie I can think of.

Martin Sheen has never been better than here. His Kit, obsessed with James Dean apparently, is one of cinema's coldest villains. His utter detachment in all the proceedings is a wonder to behold. He's completely numb and that's more haunting than any outburst of rage. He's a flawed product of society. He doesn't feel evil, he just doesn't feel anything. Sissy Spacek is also wonderful in her role, giving a very memorable performance as Holly.

Terence Malick's direction is superb. The cinematography by Tak Fujimoto is beautiful, every frame simply looks stunning and he captures the era wonderfully. It's hard to believe this film is over 30 years old. The music is also very good, with a catchy melody which seems to go well the innocence portrayed in Spacek's character. This almost feels like a children's tune.

This film is considered to be loosely based on the real life killing spree committed by Charlie Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate in 1958. Starkweather was executed and up until his last day alive, he said that Caril was just an observer but finally said she was as guilty of the killings as he, even initiating some herself.

Badlands however says in the end credits that the story is fictional.

One of the best films of the 1970's.


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