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Badlands

Year: 1973
Production Co: Jill Jakes Productions
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Terrence Malick
Producer: Terrence Malick
Writer: Terrence Malick
Cast: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek
Years before Natural Born Killers - and strongly influencing it, as you understand if you saw Oliver Stone's satire first - came Malick's own comment not just on tearaway youth but the undeserved folk hero-like status anyone can attain in the media age.

To me, everything in the story leads to the interaction between the guards holding Kit (Sheen) captive and their quarry. He talks to them all like old friends, winning them over with his charm and commanding the room wherever he is like a particularly accommodating party host.

The contrast between Kit after his capture and Kit when we first meet him - as a slovenly, smart-alecky garbage man you wouldn't look at twice - is marked. Was Malick highlighting how any notoriety (even that you gain from murdering people) is celebrity today, and celebrities deserve our adoration no matter what kind of people they are or what they've done to become so famous?

Maybe, but there's social comment buried there somewhere, and it takes a fairly linear and at times not altogether exciting movie to get there. The young hero has his eyes on a cute neighbourhood girl (Spacek) who's far too young for him. When the girl's father tries to warn the no hoper away from his daughter, Kit responds by shooting the man to death, the pair of them going on the lam and becoming serial killers are they have to dispatch more people to cover their tracks and stay one step ahead of the law.

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