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Badlands (1973)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 37,751 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 175 user | 124 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)

Badlands (1973) on IMDb 7.9/10

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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
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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

In the scene where Kit records his confession on a record, he places coins in the machine and then flips the switch from 78 rpm to 45 rpm. The instructions above the switch clearly says "Before Inserting Coins Select Recording Speed." If he were following directions he would have flipped the switch then inserted the coins. 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 Six Feet Under: The Plan (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Trois Morceaux En Forme De Poire
Erik Satie
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Badlands, you gotta live it everyday...
28 November 2004 | by See all my reviews

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...


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