Terrence Malick has become one of cinema’s most polarizing directors, a man who loves to make art house movies and refuses to cater to the whims of mainstream audiences. However, as a brilliant filmmaker, he has actors and actresses lining up to work with him, causing confused fans to see a Brad Pitt movie and then walk out without knowing what they walked into to begin with.
Malick got his start 40 years ago and his feature length debut “Badlands” was a masterpiece that proved he was a talent that critics could never take lightly. The movie stars Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek in a story based on the serial killers Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate. The movie shows Sheen’s garbage collector as he kills his girlfriend’s dad when he disapproves of their relationship, leading to a cross country killing spree.
Starkweather, who murdered 11 people, has seen his story influence movies such as “Kalifornia” and “Natural Born Killers” but nothing beats Malick’s “Badlands,” a raw and violent film that also remains a beautiful look at the era in which it lived. While Stone’s “Natural Born Killers” was all about the killing and the public’s ability to make killers into celebrities, Malick’s movie was about people in love who realized they were the only ones who really understood each other. It was about the killers and not so much about the killing.
As usual with Criterion, there is not a better looking or sounding version of “Badlands” available, and with the sort of scenic shots that Malick specializes in, Blu-ray is the perfect medium for his films.
The “Badlands” Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition includes a new documentary called “Making Badlands.” This checks in at about 42-minutes and interviews Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek and production designer Jack Fisk. While they don’t talk to the reclusive Malick, the tapped the three people who could best describe working with Malick and what they achieved with this film.
There is a 13-minutes interview with producer Edward Pressman, who talked about the difficulties in making the movie and a 22-minute interview with editor Billy Webber about the narrative structure of the film. Finally, there is a 21-minute episode of the television show “American Justice” called “Charles Starkweather.” This is a true-crime show that discusses the real people the movie remains based on.
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