Beside the references to James Dean and 'Rebel without a Cause', the film is a reflection of the other America - the wild and untamed one, when man isn't bound to a life in society but finds no place away from it. There is a lyricism in the midwestern landscapes and those two young souls, combined with a chaotic and dry violence, just like in children books. Martin Sheen is a worthy heir of James Dean.
A beautiful paean to shiftless cruelty. Despite all the mesmeric poetry to mythic American iconography, this is akin to raw meat artistically arranged in the golden glow of a sunset - but it's still raw meat. The amoral dawdle provides a modus to the wistfully elegiac tone, but an elegy to what? A folkloric burnished afternoon or unprovoked killing? Perhaps both, worryingly. A tragic cine-novella either way.
One of my favorite films of all time. A wonderful fever dream of a film that injects into us the short sightedness of youth. What a wonderful start to a brilliant career by Terrence Malick. Badlands is gorgeous and is Malcik's most accessible film. The score is seminal and the performances are iconic. Most importantly, we feel the characters and where they are in life. The only difference is that they go for it.
Sheen does a superb work in here - so does Spacek, but damn this James Dean firecracker. Malick investigates America by the filter of underworld badlands: the devil's looking young and blonde and beautiful - a glance at the unglamorous youth. But wait, it gets even better when Sheen's caught - it's heart-blowing. Paradise cinema.
Through Badlands we spy the director that Malick will one day become, concerned with a nature that minimises our rationale for violence, dwarves our big ambitions. Hell here he even shows that people aren't saying much when they speak at all. But his simplicity of vision still resonates more than his current simplicity of character, as if he let Starkweather write the events from his memory with childlike wonder
The film deserves both its accolades and its criticisms. It is a flawed masterpiece: a portrait/ballad of a psychopath who wants to 'be somebody' and a teenage girl who falls for his charms (as do the troopers). Malick is a storyteller with a distinct visual and narrative style, and that is evident even here in his debut film, which established him as an American 'auteur' and the 'film laureate' of the Great Plains.
Terrence Malick's directorial debut. Surprisingly, it's a good debut. Maybe, it's one of his simplest movie along with Days of Heaven. Although Badlands is his first movie, we can see his directing style in later movies in Badlands. Martin Sheen is perfect as a James Dean "look-a-like". But, don't forget to give applause for Sissy Spacek. There is something beyond in her narration and I feel there is a soul within...
After the multi-movie excesses of the freewheelin' Terrence Malick, it was good to spend a couple hours with a Malick disciplined enough to keep at least one foot on the ground. Badlands proves he's at his best when working within genre constraints. Thin Red Line so gloriously transcends the war movie format because it never fully abandons it. Same here with the crime-cum-road movie and (more subtly) the western...