A film by Terrence Malick
1973/ USA / 93 minutes
5.45 pm/ 7th Feb 2016
Perks Mini Theater
The world was like a faraway planet, to which I could never return ... I thought what a fine place it was, full of things that people can look into and enjoy.
– Holly (Sissy Spacek) in Badlands
When making a film, Terrence Malick speaks to his collaborators in poetic images. To Martin Sheen in Badlands (1973), he said: ‘Think of the gun in your hand as a magic wand.’
Among the great American crime movies, 1973's "Badlands" stands alone. It’s main characters Kit and Holly are inspired by real life Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate who went on a wild ride in 1958 that ended with eleven people shot dead. Reclusive writer-director Terrence Malick gives no psychological explanation and there are no symbols to note or lessons to learn from the movie. What comes through more than anything is the enormous loneliness of the lives these two characters lived, together and apart. He interweaves dull stretches of South Dakota and Montana with fierce young love, giving the film a chilling and spellbinding realism.
Nature is always deeply embedded in Malick’s films. It occupies the stage and then humans edge tentatively onto it, uncertain of their roles. Kit is ten years older than Holly, but they’re both caught up in the same adolescent love fantasy at first.
Kit and Holly are fleeing toward nowhere, although Kit talks vaguely of “heading north”. Holly follows along not so much because she must, but because she had a crush on Kit and hated her father who angered her by forbidding her to see him and even shot her dog to punish her. Refracted through Holly’s naive, emotionally flat narration and Malick’s poetic visual style, this tale is transformed into something strange and oddly beautiful.
Scenes from "Badlands" just never leave you. There's a constant tension between the beauty of the landscapes -- and of Holly and Kit -- and the banality or craziness of their behavior. Terrence Malick's debut film "Badlands" captivates us with its unique blend of deadpan lyricism, eerie violence and wistful romanticism. (Source:Internet)
Malick grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and Texas, working on oil fields as a young man. He moved to Austin, Texas and graduated from St. Stephen's Episcopal School. Malick studied philosophy under Stanley Cavell at Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1965. He went on to Magdalen College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. After a disagreement with his advisor, Gilbert Ryle, over his thesis on the concept of the world in Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein, Malick left Oxford without a doctorate degree.
In 1969, Northwestern University Press published Malick's translation of Heidegger's Vom Wesen des Grundes as The Essence of Reasons. Moving back to the United States, Malick taught philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology while freelancing as a journalist. He wrote articles for Newsweek, The New Yorker, and Life.
Malick got his start in film after earning an MFA from the AFI Conservatory in 1969, directing Lanton Mills. At the AFI he established contacts with people such as Jack Nicholson and agent Mike Medavoy, who acquired freelance script-doctoring work for him. After working as a screenwriter and script doctor, Malick directed Badlands (1973) and Days of Heaven (1978). Following the release of Days of Heaven, Malick moved to France and disappeared from public view for 20 years. He returned to film in 1998 with The Thin Red Line. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, but did not win any of them.
His fourth feature was The New World, whose script he finished in the late 1970s. The film features a romantic interpretation of the story of John Smith and Pocahontas, filmed in his customary transcendental style. And nextcame his great master piece Tree of Life in 2011. Malick is famously reclusive. His contracts stipulate that no one may photograph, and he routinely declines requests for interviews. Malick married Alexandra "Ecky" Wallace in 1998. They reside in Austin, Texas.