Genres: Crime, Drama, Romance

Kartina Richardson: Badlands

Transcript for Kartina Richardson: Badlands

Well, earlier on the show we reviewed THE TREE OF LIFE, the new film from Terrence Malick. Now, our contributor Kartina Richardson takes a look back at Malick's first feature film BADLANDS. Here’s Kartina.

Terrence Malick is a dreamer, and Badlands is his most magnificent dream. 


In the 1973 film, Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek play Kit & Holly, two unusual teenagers who fall in love, murder a couple of people, and go on the run.

That's the basic plot of the film, but the story becomes irrelevelent. Like all Malick movies, it’s really about the creation of mood and the overall emotional atmosphere.  You don’t really watch a Malick film, you feel it --experience it like the weather. Certain lines or images of might not have any particular meaning on their own but when combined they evoke a certain mood. Badland’s mood is magical. Golden light, dusty air, Carl Orff’s music, and Sissy Spacek’s translucent eyes, all melt together to create a surreal world. One that lives above time. Badland’s world exists in those instances when we manage to escape for one moment the routine of our everyday realities.

Moments like this:

/clip of Kit asking Holly to smash his hand

And this:

/clip of Kit in bed w/ Holly VO

Or this:

/clip of Kit daring guy to eat the dead dog

And this:

/clip of Kit standing on dead cow

In each one of these seemingly silly thoughts and actions is a tiny rebellion against time. An opportunity for the characters, as well as, us to reclaim our independence against the expected flow of our lives. That's Kit insists on spontaneity. He moves with time, and so  it seems as though he has more control over it. When we are  moving, when we are spontaneous, time loses all significance. The excitement of realizing the objectivity of time and reality send Kit and Holly into a murderous frenzy.

This is unfortunate, but even when fleeing the police, time holds little importance for Kit & Holly. Yes, Kit sleeps with a gun, and devises traps to foil the police, but it’s all part of a game. It isn’t a real fear of death or being captured. Kit is like Peter Pan and Holly is his lost boy. They live above us all in a world where nothing and no one exists except each other. This is the same secret world world where all Malick films live in. One we can access, but can rarely remember to.

Thank you so much, Kartina. And I love Badlands, and when you look at it you can sort of see the seeds being planted for a film like The Tree of Life. It’s languid and suspenseful all at the same time. She’s amazing in it, so, yeah if you haven’t seen it go back out and rent it.