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
The article "Absence of Malick" written by David Handelman and published in California Magazine stated that Terrence Malick filmed this picture " . . . in Eastern Colorado between August and October of 1972. He, reportedly, gave investors no guarantee of completion or distribution, paid himself no salary and his actors and crew not much more. The costumer, mechanic and Malick himself all ended up acting in the film. As not only director, but producer, Malick suddenly found himself dealing with insurance costs, auto maintenance, unionizers, shotgun-wielding landowners and a mutinous crew. His first cinematographer, Brian Probyn, wouldn't shoot what Malick wanted, claiming the scenes wouldn't cut together. Probyn's assistant, Tak Fujimoto, then took over, but also left. Some equipment was damaged by the film's fire sequence. When a special-effects man suffered severe burns, Malick, unable to afford a helicopter, sent him to the distant hospital by car, and many crew members quit in protest. For the last two weeks of the shoot, the entire crew consisted of the director, the director's wife and a local high school student. Then Malick ran out of money whilst editing and had to take a rewrite job to finish his movie. When shown to the New York Film Festival selection board months later, the print broke, the sound was muddy, the picture was out of focus. Yet Badlands (1973) landed the prestigious closing-night slot and drew raves. Warner's paid $950,000 for the distribution rights". 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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Made in the early 1970s, this was more of classic type crime story than a modern-day one in that the violence wasn't overdone and it was a slower-paced story than what you would see if re-made today.
That slower pace makes for a better study of the two main characters, who were based on the real-life serial-killing duo of the 1950s: Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend.
Martin Sheen's Starkweather-type character "Kit Carruthers" is amazingly low- key for a killer and Sissy Spacek, playing his girl, "Holly," shows some really strange reactions (she hardly reacts after Sheen shoots her father) while providing fascinating narration. In fact, the more I watch this film, the more Spacek's narration is the highlight for me. It's great stuff.
Being a Terrence Malick-directed film, you know you are going to get some nice photography. He really loves closeups of nature. Another plus is the absence of profanity. There is very little of it.
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