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7,342 Ratings


Directed by Terrence Malick
United States, 1973
Crime, Romance, Drama


A tale of crime and love begins in a dead-end town when teen baton-twirler Holly takes off with older rebel Kit after a conflict with her father erupts in murder. In the ensuing crime spree, they journey through the Midwest to the Badlands of Montana, eluding authorities along the way.

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Badlands Directed by Terrence Malick
I’ve now seen Malick’s first film, a masterpiece, so many times that it’s permanently embedded in my brain and it twists inside my grey matter with images and impressions from countless viewings, including my own unreliable recollection at 13. The movie is so special, so enchanted, so truly transcendent that it clings to your very soul, a palimpsest on the brain.
May 01, 2017
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Quietly, [Holly] tells us how she’s feeling—and then, suddenly, how she’s not—yet Malick’s unsentimental images reveal a darker story: crazy, impulsive. Badlands is the American myth of freedom and violence; it doesn’t get old because it remains what we are.
May 07, 2013
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In just his first film, Malick displays the unique sensitivity to his character’s inner life—to say nothing of the magnificent outer life of the landscape around her—that has made him a singular filmmaker. His visual poetry has the effect of extracting the pulp while heightening the horror.
April 03, 2013
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What are people saying?

  • Richmond Hill's rating of the film Badlands

    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.

  • Rafael Zen's rating of the film Badlands

    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.

  • Renton47's rating of the film Badlands

    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

  • Duncan Gray's rating of the film Badlands

    Seen at Film Forum, and what a difference a big screen makes in turning this tale of a sociopathic killer and his passive girlfriend into a truly hypnotic vision. Part of it feels rooted in 70s drive-ins: a low-budget road movie about killers on the loose. The rest is the beginning of Malick's obsession with the cosmic, juxtaposing small characters with a larger universe that could barely notice their mistakes.

  • Nicholas Gregory's rating of the film Badlands

    The grace and elegance in its whimsical acting and the recherche mood makes Badlands a serial killer film of tenderness. The minimalism in plot construction gives it a common lovers-on-the-lam vibe, and despite its beauty, there isn't much meaning to the style outside of a dreamy quality. The final act, however, gives the story meaning as we wonder why we are so fascinated with these killers in the first place.

  • anarresti's rating of the film Badlands

    Yes, I do have to watch Bonnie and Clyde and Thelma and Louise (even though I feel I have, because the images of those films permeate so much of our western culture). But I did watch Natural Born Killers (not a road movie, I know). Watching this masterpiece by Terrence Malick, I realize that american culture evades me. I'm intrigued. What happens here? There is something strange that needs deeper investigation. *

  • ig_____or's rating of the film Badlands

    The first movie of Terrence Malick already shows his incredible eye, his appeal for the rural American lifestyle and neighborhoods, Nature, beautiful landscapes and love stories. Sure the movie and its leading couple feel a bit naive in their actions, but it's a nice ride and a very good first feature.

  • Scottie Ferguson's rating of the film Badlands

    This may be the best debut feature ever. It's also the only Malick film I've really loved; if only he had continued down the path started with this movie, which has a sense of focus that his later work lacks. Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek are both great, creating two incredibly complex characters.

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