Badlands sees Kit, a young man in the outback of America, in a relationship with Holly, a girl whom looks up to him as some kind of cool, James Dean character. The narrator of the film is done by Holly, who has this sweet, naive perspective of someone delusional enough to stay with a mad psycho killer, all the way through the odyssey of slaughter this film becomes. I mean, the moment Kit shoots Holly’s dad in her own home, you would have thought she’d of snapped out of her romantic fantasy of ‘happy-ever-afters’ but she doesn’t – instead she justifies his actions in her narration to us.
They burn Holly’s house down to the ground, with her dad’s cadaver still inside, then embark on their bloody adventure. I say bloody, not because this o’ BEAR is mildly annoyed in the confines of his/her cave, but because from the moment Kit killed Holly’s father, they were on the run, and it becomes apparent that Kit is out of control. Even when just the sniff of danger enters his madcap mind, he loses it and just blasts everyone and anyone away, every time! BEAR did find it amusing how the vinyl Kit recorded a message on–intended for the cops to think he and Holly were dead–got consumed by the house fire as well. Oops.
(yes, Martin Sheen (KIT) is a firestarter!)
The most iconic moment in the whole movie has to be the moment Holly ponders and questions her own life. She wonders what would have happened if Kit didn’t kill her dad (among other things) and how it suddenly hit her how life is short. BEAR loves her musings in this scene so much, he has included it here (see below). BEAR is nice, isn’t he/she/it/Ro0aAAR!?!!:
What’s so beautiful about this scene is that it simply makes you… feel. It amazed me when I first saw that scene – the simple introspection it induces within you, the sincerity of it… that’s a hard thing to do in cinema; and director/writer, Terrence Malick, achieved here what many people have spent a lifetime doing, but failing to do, in this particular scene, BEAR thinks.
Eventually, the game is up for Kit and the police finally capture him. But Kit doesn’t seem to bothered by this, and instead of becoming defeated, he revels in it. The police lap it up as well: they enjoy it when Kit throws them all the possessions in his pockets, and can’t stop asking him questions. It’s almost like Kit thinks he’s become a celebrity of sorts (well, he did go by the name ‘James’ when on the run – a reference to James Dean. Also, he’s been in all the newspapers, so perhaps he has a point. And the officer who arrested him says when they capture him:
Deputy: You like people?
Kit: They’re OK.
Deputy: Then why’d you do it?
Kit: I don’t know. I always wanted to be a criminal, I guess. Just not this big a one. Takes all kinds, though.
Deputy: [to Sheriff] You know who that son-of-a-bitch looks like? You know, don’t you?
Deputy: I’ll kiss your ass if he don’t look like James Dean.
BEAR loves the world these two main character’s adventure on throughout this film. The brutality of Kit and the cute innocence of Holly is a dichotomy of complexity, a strange and fascinating viewing experience.
This is a bloody great film. 9/10