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Badlands

Director: Terrence Malick

U.S.A • 1973 • COLOUR • 94 MINS


One of the songs heard over the evocative soundtrack of Badlands is ‘Love Is Strange’. That sentiment reverberates in the film as a James Dean lookalike (Martin Sheen) blazes a trail of destruction across America’s badlands in the 1950s and his story is lovingly recorded in her journal by the girl Holly (Sissy Spacek) he takes with him. The brutality of his progress is counterpointed by her oddly tender narration
and her faulty assessment of what might interest and appeal to her audience. With the action filtered through a child-like vision, augmented by poetic photography and a hauntingly original soundtrack, the director keeps the audience at some remove from easy moral judgments, detaching them with a romanticised impression of murder and madness. This extraordinary first feature proved Malick to be a
true original, a Mark Twain for the modern age, with a sensitive eye and ear for the myths that accrete around the American landscape and a complex sense of childhood, innocence, Nature and fate.

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