Warner/1973/95m/ANA 1.85

     Terrence Malick captures the space surrounding ones inner existence with ex-ray perception. In Badlands, two young people, lost in their worlds and trying to find a meaning to life,  gravitate to one another. Kit throws garbage for work and one day meets lonely Holly in front of her house. Kit charms Holly with his attention. Together, they seek escape from their mundane existence. The unexpected journey is both beautiful and horrifying. Set in settings of bucolic innocence, director Malick's vision, makes sharp and sudden changes in direction. From romance to thriller to road movie, Badlands travels under confident guidance. Montana and South Dakota look bleak and beautiful.

Innocent meeting. ©Warner

      Martin Sheen is devastating in his portrait of Kit Carruthers. Sheen's matter-of-fact attitude is delivered with an eerie sense of amorality. Kit does what he must to survive. I don't think he even understands his own motivation. Sissy Spaceks narration as the teenage Holly, tinged with innocence and an acceptance of fate, represents the tone of the empty Malick landscape to perfection. Spacek, young, beautiful, virginally innocent, speaks with a forlorn fatefulness. The heavy narration accompanying the beautiful images is crucial to the success of Badlands, and Spacek delivers the goods.  There are great characters aside from Kit and Holly. Holly's Dad, a sign painter, is  wonderfully written. The opportunity to show off his work against the desolate backdrops is spectacular. Warren Oates is perfect casting as the Dad. Oates looks like he knows how to paint a sign and work at being a single father. 
     A hallmark of the Malick's few films is exquisite photography. Badlands features the work of a young Tak Fujimoto, but it is Malick's vision, just as Days of Heaven and the recent Thin Red Line, reflect the vision of the director. The score's light, fairy tale, feeling, suckers you into the darkness of Badlands. Innocence destroyed is a powerful theme. Malick's team puts the elements together with rare harmony. But, most significant is the credit "written, directed and produced by Terrence Malick."

      The range of colors on this DVD capture the outstanding photography quite well. Contrast is also excellent with fine lighting balance. The DVD suffers from excessive edge enhancement resulting in ghosting around many images. The film elements are very grainy and the grain on the DVD is even more prominent because of the enhancement. Badlands has been remixed to Dolby Digital 5:1 surround. The music, so integral to the feeling of the feeling, is delivered very cleanly, as is the dialogue. The gun shots are sudden and shocking in report. Surround information is not aggressive.


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