Terrence Malick is a filmmaker who does not make films just for the sake of having another project to work on. Each of the filmmaker’s few films over the decades have had similarities in style and cinematic approach despite varying storylines, but the one thing that has remained the same in each of his films is passion.
Badlands is one of the great
American debut features, stamping Malick’s place in film history from then on,
and taking actors Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek to new heights in their career
in the process.
The story was based on the notorious killing spree of Charles Starkweather and his underage girlfriend in the late 1950s, though the names are changed for the film. These two went on a killing spree that shocked the nation, and Malick takes an unsentimental look at the possible behavior behind the brutal murderers. Martin Sheen stars as Kit, a 25-year-old trash man who clearly longs to be James Dean. When he meets 15-year-old Holly (Spacek), the two begin an awkward romance.
Malick imagines Kit as a socially stunted man and Holly as an emotionally unequipped young girl. Though they become fugitives together after the first string of murders, there is a sense of romance that comes with the celebrity. As easily as this film’s unsentimental approach is comparable to In Cold Blood, the celebrity worship can also be compared to Bonnie and
The main difference seems to be the fact that neither Kit nor Holly much seem
to enjoy each other’s company, or the murder spree, for that matter.
The new Blu-ray release includes a newly restored 4K digital transfer which was approved by the director. There is also an all-new making-of documentary and new interviews, as well as a 1993 television episode about the real-life case which inspired the film. The package has a booklet with an essay by filmmaker Michael Almereyda.