Urban Cinefile
"That scene took one of the smartest guys at Pixar about two and a half months to do. And it's barely four seconds long. "  -Brad Bird, writer/director, The Incredibles on a scene from the film.
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Sunday July 12, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



In mid 50s America, the 25 year old Kit (Martin Sheen), with his James Dean hair and looks, loses his job as a garbage collector just as he meets 15 year old Holly (Sissy Spacek), spinning batons outside her house. Each for their own reasons falls quickly into a relationship and they set off on what soon turns into a killing spree across Dakota and the badlands of Montana.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Regarded as the first of Terrence Malick's landmark films (and his feature debut), Badlands is based on the real life exploits of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate in 1958. Alienated, chillingly unconnected to his victims or his crimes, Kit (Martin Sheen) is a study in what has since become a regular seizure within American society as youngsters spray bullets around schools in a state of suspended humanity.

Searing performances from both Sheen (who won the Best Actor Award at San Sebastian for his role) and Sissy Spacek (who was nominated as Best Promising Newcomer at the BAFTAs for hers), combined with superb cinematography, ensure a memorable film. Adding to the layers of characterisation, Malick has written a wonderful narration for Holly. She reads the words that tell their story in a mix of 'Dear Diary' and breathless women's magazine 'Confessions'; this device provides an insight into the character's point of view that completes the study of these two youngsters in a fascinating yet simple fashion.

It begins innocently enough, even idyllically, as the two youngsters share a riverside game of cards and Holly tells us of how good he makes her feel about herself - for once. It's romantic in a simple way, a mood that underscores - and even inhabits - what follows. There are no answers to the questions of why Kit is as he is in the screenplay; nor in real life.

Malick's choices in camera placement, Gorge Tipton's economical but poignant score and the engrossing story of two lost but violent souls makes for classic, troubling yet fascinating cinema.

Published June 26, 2008

Email this article

Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(US, 1973)

CAST: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Warren Oates, Ramon Bieri

PRODUCER: Terrence Malick, Jill Jakes

DIRECTOR: Terrence Malick

SCRIPT: Terrence Malick

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tak Fujimoto, Stevan Larner, Brian Probyn

EDITOR: Robert Estrin

MUSIC: George Tipton


RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD 5.2, DD 2.0

SPECIAL FEATURES: Subtitles in English, French, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Romanian, Bulgarian

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: June 4, 2008

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020