Badlands (film)

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Badlands is a 1973 film written and directed by Terrence Malick, starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Warren Oates and Ramon Bieri are also featured. Malick has a small speaking part although he does not receive an acting credit.

The story, though fictional, is loosely based on the real-life murder spree of Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, in 1958.[1]



Badlands is narrated by Holly (Spacek), a teenage girl living in a dead-end South Dakota town. One day she meets Kit (Sheen), a rebellious young greaser who charms her and takes her as his accomplice on a cross-country killing spree. Holly's narration, describing her adventures with Kit with romantic clichés, is juxtaposed with the grim reality of Kit's sociopathic appetite for grisly violence. This use of voice-over to create a dialectic between sound and image has become a dominant feature of Malick's work. It is revealed by Holly during the ending that Kit was executed for his crimes.



Malick began work on Badlands after his second year as a student at the American Film Institute. "I wrote and, at the same time, developed a kind of sales kit with slides and video tape of actors, all with a view to presenting investors with something that would look ready to shoot," Malick said. "To my surprise, they didn't pay too much attention to it; they invested on faith. I raised about half the money and executive producer Edward Pressman the other half."[2]

Principal photography took place in the summer of 1972, beginning in July, with a non-union crew and a considerably low budget of $300,000 (excluding some deferments to film labs and actors).[2]

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