Director: Terrence Malick
Cast includes: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek
Sunday morning screenings include a free cuppa and biscuits! Americana Season hosted by Ben Newell
94mins / 1973 / USA

Ben Newell's second choice in our Americana season is Terrence Malick's meditative and violent Badlands.

The film tells a story that has been told many times, of two lovers (Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek) who are criminals and are pursued across the vastness of America. With echoes of Arthur Penn's seminal "Bonnie Clyde" (1967) Malick’s direct inspiration was the story of Charles Starkweather, the “Mad Dog Killer,” who in 1957-58 with his girl friend Caril Ann Fugate went on a killing spree that left 11 dead, including her parents and younger sister. She was 13, he was 18.

Badlands premiered at the New York film festival on October 13 1973. By all accounts, the reception it received overshadowed even Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets, which played at the same festival. Vincent Canby of the New York Times called Malick's debut "cool, sometimes brilliant, always ferociously American". Sheen himself later said: "I will never be better than I was in Badlands."

"I have chosen this film as Terrence Malick became an obsession for me around 15 when I saw his WW2 epic The Thin Red Line at the cinema in 1998 in America which then opened again that metaphorical door into the cinema of Malick. I recall rushing to the library flipping through film encyclopedias to find out what other films he had made. Little did I realise I had to go back 20 years to find his work. Badlands coupled with his follow up Days of Heaven (1978) established a love affair with a filmmaker who produced eloquent beauty, a mysticism and allusiveness that pulled me in like a tractor beam. I was bewildered and instantly recognised his influence on the movies I was watching at the time (Tony Scott's True Romance for example). Watching his films I began to understand how delicately a shot was composed, the precision and movement of actors and how cinema could be ambiguous in both mood and texture." - Ben Newell

Sunday morning screenings include a free cuppa and biscuits!

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