The voice of innocence whispers in our ears... (by Balthazar-5)
Is it really possible that this luminous masterpiece is a first feature film? It is as though Mozart had started his career in composition with one of his mature symphonies. What is totally special about 'Badlands' is the visual control that Terrence Malick applies to the story, and his use of fabulous music to embed his amazing images in our mind. The 'Bonnie & Clyde'-ish story could have been turgid, but Malick turns it into a mythic journey.At the heart of Malick's method is the fabulous interior monologue by Holly explaining and ironically commenting on the story. <more>
"Kit made me take my schoolbooks so I wouldn't fall behind with my studies...". This has been characteristic of each of Malick's films - Linda in 'Days of Heaven' and Witt in 'The Thin Red Line' have somewhat similar monologues - and 'New World' is monumentalised by the haunting monologue/montage with which it ends. Here it totally sucks the viewer into the story and makes the montages that it accompanies into, just about, the high-point of seventies cinema. Alongside this, Malick uses some of the most haunting music in existence. Whether it is Carl Orff or Nat King Cole, Malick transports us with fabulous romantic imagery that perfectly balances it.I started on this comment determined not to use the word 'poetry', but I just can't avoid it. With nearly all filmmakers, including very great ones, the style that they present is very much prose - great prose, perhaps, but firmly rooted on the ground. With Malick, we are taken, emotionally, to the stars by the lyric magnificence of the totality of his vision.It is said that Welles learned cinema by watching John Ford's 'Stagecoach' before embarking on 'Citizen Kane'. Every young filmmaker should watch this amazing masterpiece again and again and again and inform their work with Malick's matchless sense of true cinema.
Landmark film. One of the best directorial debuts (by ODDBear)
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, <more>
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.
Meditative view of life, love, and death by Terrence Malick (by Quinoa1984)
Badlands, based on the relationship between Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate and later an inspiration for Tarantino's True Romance and NBK , never has a moment where something un-realistic curries. Writer/producer/director Terence Malick leads his film along with a true emphasis on both the psychological nature of Kit Martin Sheen and Holly Sissy Spacek , and with the un-canny knack for a relaxing style in his camera. At best, Badlands is one of the successful homages to European cinema of the 1970's, something that will last a long time due to its pairing of absorbing <more>
art-house and perhaps mainstream sensibilities. At worst, a viewer could feel bored with Malick's intent on running with his poetic ideas as a director. If there was any pretentiousness at all, it went over my head; this is a film that draws you into its tragic nature.Sheen and Spacek are totally believable as a couple on the run, as Kit continually has a trigger-happy attitude to people after he shoots Holly's father. While Spacek holds the heart of the picture steady, I'd have to say that Sheen's Kit is one of his best performances. He comes off in the perfect sense- you wouldn't think for a second that Kit could be a killer, that is until he pulls out his pistol. It works just as well that Holly is the narrator, so that the viewer can understand where Kit's coming from, and where he's going. If there is any distance between his character and the audience, there's still a strong, emotional connection through Spacek, and their bond as a loving, if dangerous, couple.Overall, Badlands is extraordinary in a way that doesn't cram its atmospheric from start to finish on the audience, and it looks at young people in love, however in such twisted circumstances, in an honest way in how escalatory events create a disillusioned feeling in youth. That it's made on such a low budget gives it more merit. Kudos should go to the musical score by James Taylor, Gunild Keetman and George Tipton, too; it's one of the best debuts of the 70's. A+
Badlands, you gotta live it everyday... (by dbdumonteil)
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 <more>
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
A sophisticated exploration of the nature of good and evil (by jongru)
Surely one of the most brilliant films ever made. The haunting music and cinematography would almost suffice by itself. The hero is little more than a child: the heroine his willing accomplice, and we are made to question what is good and what is evil by seeing the world through the eyes of children. From the moment when the girl's father shoots her dog to punish her, we lose any loyalty to traditional values or to the rights of parents over their children. By the end, it's obvious to us that society doesn't value the lives of those who were killed. It anticipates Natural Born <more>
Killers, but perhaps says more and uses a tighter structure.Brilliantly acted and directed, with many layers to it. A film to watch again and again.
Slower Is Better In This Crime Tale (by ccthemovieman-1)
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 <more>
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.
"Saw her standing on her front porch, just a-twirling her baton..." (by paul2001sw-1)
The serial killer genre is the most overdone in modern cinema, but director Terrence Mallick took a real life story to make his powerful debut, 'Badlands'. He even toned it down, his interest being not in presenting a picture of pure and wholly artificial evil but rather in portraying a wholly human story. Murder is depicted here in all its banality - people shot off-screen through locked doors, by a young man acting for wholly normal motives but without the customary restraints on behaviour that we term morals. The result is a haunting, though occasionally pretentious, study of <more>
individuals drifting beyond the bounds of civilisation, their physical location America's still-wild west symbolically matching their mental isolation. Sissy Spacek is particularly good as the ordinary girl just along for the ride. A fine film, 'Badlands' is also genuinely disturbing, in a way that Hannibal Lector could only dream of.
Typical of director Terrence Malick's work, "Badlands" revolves around a couple of loners who ostracise themselves from society and attempt to live in the wilderness. They eke out a natural existence, living a romantic life in the vein of Henry Thoreau, but gradually the outside world encroaches, leading to conflict and eventually death.Our "heroes" are an odd bunch. She's Holly an ugly duckling and social outcast whose life was derailed by the death of her mother, and he's Kit a loser who collects garbage and preys on little girls too naive to recognise <more>
that he's a bum. Like most of Malick's "heroes", they're in search of some idyllic haven, a quest which takes them to the dust-bowls of South Dakota. Like Malick's "The New World", in which both England and America were "new worlds", this film's title thus has a double meaning. Our heroes not only retreat "into" the badlands, but "away" from what they perceive to be the badlands, in this case the covert hostility of small town America.Though the film is structured as the hazy memories of a slightly older Holly, its visual "fabric" is almost completely at odds with Holly's recollections. Kit and Holly perceive themselves to be deep and brooding loners akin to James Dean, Bonnie and Clyde and medieval romantics, but the audience is always aware that they're just a couple of flat and vapid personalities. In other words, Holly wrongly annotates her own story, and it is only gradually, as the story unfolds, that she wakes up to this fact.Kit is himself constantly proclaiming that he "has things on his mind", and yet everything he says and does proves otherwise. Kit's void is made most apparent by his obsession with James Dean. When others mention that he looks like Dean, Kit's eyes light up, his face brimming with a kind of narcissism. He's a nobody, and comparisons to Dean allow him to expropriate, if only for a little while, somebody else's fame.Kit's "disenchantment with self" is emphasised during the film's final scene. "You're quite an individual," a police officer says as Kit boards a plane on route for the electric chair. "Think they'll take that into consideration?" Kit naively replies. Individuality, and the fact that society does not cater for it, is precisely why Kit and Holly find themselves marginalised.The people whom Kit kills co-workers, Holly's father etc in his attempts to evade the law and maintain his freedom and relationship with Holly therefore demonstrate that Kit's rebellion is, quite unconsciously, a rebellion against a social order which wants him confined to the outskirts of society. The flights of the various "individuals" in Malick's "Days of Heaven" and "The Thin Red Line" follow this same trend, Richard Gere killing his factory boss and going on the run in the former film, James Caviziel ditching the army and going on the run in the latter.But rather than treat sex, love and freedom as a cynosure for unity and elation, Malick depicts romance as the locus of division and indifference. "Is that it?" Holly disappointedly says after the couple first have sex, a line which marks the point at which their romance begins to collapse.The disintegration of Kit and Holly's "romance" he begins to question whether she really was a virgin, she begins to view him as a bum mirrors the couple's disenchantment with being "free" and "living in the new world". But Holly's journey from romantic naivety to disillusionment also mirrors the arc of the film's philosophical meta-story, which charters a war between the Romantic Ideal of man-in-harmony with nature, with the Post Enlightenment Ideal of man "lording over" nature.Romanticism began as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution and as a revolt against the social and political norms of scientific rationalism and the Age of Enlightenment. It favoured ancient customs, folk art, "returning to nature", spontaneity, enchantment, freedom, and rejected rational and Classicist models in favour for a form of Medievalism which, in theory, helped one escape the confines of population growth, urban sprawl, and industrialism. In short, the Romantic Ideal exalted a kind of gifted, enchanted, misunderstood loner whose creativity followed the dictates of his own wild inspirations rather than the mores of contemporary society. Such a "romantic outlaw" is found at the core of every Malick flick.So Malick's films deal with what German sociologist Max Weber calls "Rationalization's disenchantment of the world", in which society cherishes "instrumental Rationality" over and above "value rationality" to such an extent that magic/spirituality/religion/ethereality is slowly eroded. This process of devaluation or disenchantment gives rise to a condition of cultural nihilism in which the intrinsic value or meaning of ideals and actions is increasingly subordinated to a "rational" quest for efficiency, control and the pursuit of "mundane materials", often by violence. Weber calls this the "iron cage of specialists without spirit and sensualists without heart" Holly's father is an artist but uses his talents on advertisements . In breaking free of their worlds and retreating to the Romantic Ideal, Malick's "heroes" are thus searching for some mythical wholeness, some non-existent Eden which is unattainable precisely because all pre-enlightenment myths of wholeness have been displaced by the modern discovery of a plurality of worlds. The tensions of Malick's films, however, arise from the fact that the modern world which allows for all, also allows for nothing. As plurality is threatening, the Social Order attempts to reduce this threatening plurality - and the sceptical undermining of knowledge and morality it entails - to one universal world again by means of conquest and domination. And that is the paradox Malick explores: the Post Enlightenment world which preaches multiplicity but seeks to impose its own unity, its own singular Law imperialism/colonialism/the Big Other , and the Romantic Ideal which promises some spiritual wholeness, but delivers only the lawless, malevolence of Nature.10/10 – Worth multiple viewings.
BADLANDS is a minimalist thriller from famed director Terrence Malick, a film which gets by on mood, feeling, and a sense of dejected atmosphere and inevitable foreboding that accompanies the on-screen actions. There's not a great deal of plot complexity in this film, but at the same time it speaks volumes about human existence - a truly existential thriller. A bit like a Herzog film, then.The story is a straightforward one about a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde who go on a violent road trip across America. Its influence upon the more recent likes of KALIFORNIA and NATIONAL BORN KILLERS is <more>
obvious, and yet as the first of its type it clearly has the edge over later additions to the genre. Martin Sheen excels in a frightening, career-making performance, but it's Sissy Spacek who really holds things together. Her quiet, mousy character is somehow the worse of the two, mainly because she deals with intense violence in such a matter-of-fact and accepting way.The cinematography is excellent and brings out the lonely barrenness of the Colorado locations - it's a shame more Hollywood films don't escape the studios once in a while to celebrate the geography of North America. Warren Oates bags a nice minor but pivotal role, and the set-piece sequences are very well handled. It might be a grim and depressing story - it is based on facts, after all - but in Malick's hands it becomes somehow oddly beautiful.