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Badlands (1973)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 36,178 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 173 user | 118 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:

In 1959 a lot of people were killing time. Kit and Holly were killing 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:

Badlands  »

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

Although Charlie Starkweather had been executed when the movie came up for production, Caril Fugate was still alive and facing parole, prompting the filmmakers to change the names of the principal characters to avoid a lawsuit. 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 Looking: Looking for the Future (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Die grauen Weiber
[The grey hags] (uncredited)
by Carl Orff
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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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