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"He wanted to die with me and I dreamed of being lost forever in his arms." A young couple goes on a Midwest crime spree in Terrence Malick's hypnotically assured debut feature, based on the 1950s Starkweather-Fugate murders. Fancying himself a rebel like James Dean, twentysomething Kit (Martin Sheen) takes off with teen baton-twirler Holly (Sissy Spacek) after shooting her father (Warren Oates) when he tries to split the pair up. Once bounty hunters discover their riverside hiding place, Kit and Holly head toward Saskatchewan, leaving dead bodies in their wake. As the law closes… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"In the fall of 1973, one could see signposts of cinema's future in Mean Streets and The Exorcist, yet with this youthful pair of proto-indie dreamers, Malick was paving a whole new road. It turned out to be the path most traveled."
‑ Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
"Written, produced and directed by Terrence Malick, pic is his first feature and it's an impressive debut."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"The movie is just as free, experimental, and unsure of itself as its main characters are, and thus fits like a glove."
‑ Christopher Runyon, Movie Mezzanine
"One of Malick's most resonant notions in Badlands is that everyone confronts mortality in his or her own way."
‑ Michael Nordine, Not Coming to a Theater Near You
"Incredibly beautiful, of course (you may have heard that Malick movies are famous for their landscapes), but it's not "just" beautiful."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"Days of Heaven put Terrence Malick's intuitions into cogent form, but this is where his art begins."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Among the great American crime movies, 1973's Badlands stands alone."
‑ Peter Stack, San Francisco Chronicle
"This tender treatment does nothing to alleviate the horror of the atrocities committed."
‑ Christopher Long, Movie Metropolis
"Malick has come to be known and revered as a cinematic poet and philosopher, as a filmmaker who explores big ideas, but in Badlands in particular he also shows a knack for off-kilter humor."
‑ Mark Pfeiffer, Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
"...the first of Malick's many screen Edens, all of which inevitably come to a violent end."
‑ Josh Larsen, LarsenOnFilm
"This first, magnificent, outpouring of the sporadic genius of cinema's equivalent to JD Salinger, Terrence Malick, still seems terrifically modern."
‑ Wally Hammond, Time Out
"[VIDEO ESSAY] Terrence Malick's self-penned feature debut is a haunting road movie pitched in '50s Americana. The film's razor-sharp tone of poetic irony is unique."
‑ Cole Smithey,
"It's a testament to Bruce Greenwood's acting that Adan never becomes entirely as insufferable as the words that come out of his mouth."
‑ Tina Hassannia, Slant Magazine
"In his debut, Terrence Malick is an uncanny creator of pearlescent forms, a very stark balladeer, Mark Twain's coolly ferocious heir"
‑ Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion
"Malick's film, full of striking cutaways to the burning-sun horizon and the harsh landscape's solitary creatures, comes to operate at an overpoweringly chilling remove."
‑ Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness
More reviews for Badlands on Rotten Tomatoes

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