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The simple girl Holly who lives with her father (Sissy Spacek) falls in love with James Dean lookalike and James Dean non-conformityalike Kit (Martin Sheen). When her father resists the new boyfriend to strongly, he gets killed with a shot in the belly. From there on, the couple is on the run, leaving a trail of useless and often unprovoked death behind. The level of irrationality behind the killings even makes Kit a media hero.

Terrence Malick is a strange guy to me: the name well known, I consider him to be one of the leading creatives in the cinema of the last 30 years, believe him to be able to use brutality in a non-compromising way similar to Peckinpah. I think he is a perfectionist of the Kubrick category. And a studio outsider who manages to pull off big budget movies using studio money. The thing is: I don’t know any of this. I have never seen a single of his films. Maybe “Days of Heaven” but I am not sure. He only made five films since 1968, but still his impact seems to be everywhere. What is he doing the rest of his time? What he did in “Badlands”, in any case, is absolutely fantastic. He lets loose the trigger-happy Kit, teams Martin Sheen up with Sissy Spacek, one of my all-time favourite actresses (and not just for “Carrie”. Watch “Night, Mother”!) and lets his ravaging pride and ludicrous attitude, his controlled anger and lack of moral safeguard switch be countered by this fragile and simple girl with the freckles who is only to happy to stand by and watch in wonder why that boy is doing what he is doing, why is so completely unaffected by all those deaths. At least he apologizes once in a while to her, especially when killing off her family members. Martin Sheen at the time was a stunningly handsome bloke. Mallick did whatever he could to make him a movie star and a serious actor. I think Malick may be a little bit disappointed by how things turned out, but at least we can be glad that watching this film finally led to Coppola bringing in Sheen when it came to replace Keitel for the Willard role.

A prototypical road movie on the one side, with stunning landscapes and sunsets – yet a category on its own in many, truly orginial masterpiece.

Inspired by (I have to repeat again and again, by the filmspotting marathons)

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