Film club - Badlands

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Kenji
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Re: Film club - Badlands

Postby Kenji » 05 May 2009, 15:35

Dr Modernist wrote:
Kenji wrote:About the characters, at first I thought why didn't Holly have any big reaction to her father's murder and then I realized and thought again later when there were more murders she must be as crazy as Kit. And that made it more interesting for me - I was waiting for her to do something and that made a tension for me...


Holly's impassive, emotionless behaviour throughout the film seems to be pretty close to an extreme case of autism or Aspergers. She does not know how to read situations and seems impervious to the context of events, for example one of the oddest scenes in the film has her carry on an inane conversation with Cato as he lies dying from a stomach wound (or similarly her teenage chit chat with the girl who Kit forces in the storm bunker and probably kills).
I don't know if Malick intended that Holly's behaviour was meant to be read in this way, I don't know how much they knew about these conditions in 1973, but it is an interesting way to understand the way she behaves throughout the film.


I want to watch again because I want to watch her character to the time of her father's death. Is there any hint she has a serious mental problem before then? I can't remember now...
Until that point I just thought she was a usual 15 years old kid - a little strange or shy or like that. Of course after we can see how she reacts to murders we know she isn't a normal teenager...

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Re: Film club - Badlands

Postby The Modernist » 05 May 2009, 15:37

Jeemo wrote:Watched this today. Beautifully filmed and framed. The scences when driving towards the mountains are stunning, glad that I have a 50" plasma to see this in all its glory.


Try and see Days Of Heaven if you can (if you haven't already of course). There are big similarities between the two films, and visually it is even more stunning (if not quite as engaging as a narrative).[/quote]
Jeemo wrote:My favourite scene was when Spacek was looking at her fathers photos and talking about life after Kit. I wonder how long Mallick looked for those photos or did he have the photos first.


Yeah I love that scene too, and the way Malick holds that last picture of the young couple, there's something very touching about that shot.

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Re: Film club - Badlands

Postby The Modernist » 05 May 2009, 15:42

Kenji wrote:
I want to watch again because I want to watch her character to the time of her father's death. Is there any hint she has a serious mental problem before then? I can't remember now...
Until that point I just thought she was a usual 15 years old kid - a little strange or shy or like that. Of course after we can see how she reacts to murders we know she isn't a normal teenager...


As Davey says earlier, Malick denies us much of a back story to the characters. All we know is her mother died at some point and she was brought up by her overprotective father. I guess the scene where he shoots her dog is there to show us his cruelty and provide some hint as to why she turned out the way she did, but generally the film doesn't show us much of her before the killings begin.

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Re: Film club - Badlands

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 05 May 2009, 16:47

Dr Modernist wrote:
Kenji wrote:About the characters, at first I thought why didn't Holly have any big reaction to her father's murder and then I realized and thought again later when there were more murders she must be as crazy as Kit. And that made it more interesting for me - I was waiting for her to do something and that made a tension for me...


Holly's impassive, emotionless behaviour throughout the film seems to be pretty close to an extreme case of autism or Aspergers. She does not know how to read situations and seems impervious to the context of events, for example one of the oddest scenes in the film has her carry on an inane conversation with Cato as he lies dying from a stomach wound (or similarly her teenage chit chat with the girl who Kit forces in the storm bunker and probably kills).
I don't know if Malick intended that Holly's behaviour was meant to be read in this way, I don't know how much they knew about these conditions in 1973, but it is an interesting way to understand the way she behaves throughout the film.


Yeah...that is a good point. Whether or not Malick in 1973 was aware of Aspergers or saw Holly in terms of Autism, he likely knew multiple people within that spectrum. Everybody did...they simply did not think of it in terms of diagnosis.

The above said, I think it is a mistake to view Kit and Holly in terms of mental disability. I think they are meant to point out tendencies that are presumably more universal than not. Obviously not as extreme as theirs, but still present within most of us. An example from my own life: When people close to me have died, often my first momentary reaction is something akin to excitement...that something big is happening in my life. Of course the pain and loss settle in quickly, but I've noticed this strange twinge of (for lack of a better word) pride that rushes over me before the permanence of it all is real to me. When I think of Kit, I think of a guy stuck in that place. Holly is stranger to me, but I've seen people react to death in nearly as matter of fact a way as her. I don't see either character as being terribly divorced from human nature as I understand it. But they both seem to be stuck in those places our mind visits before we come to terms with a hard reality.
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Snarfyguy
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Re: Film club - Badlands

Postby Snarfyguy » 08 May 2009, 14:38

I was able to watch this again last night. It was like visiting with an old friend.

I have very little to add to what's been written above, unfortunately, except to say that I love how Malick so often takes time to stop developing the characters and advancing the narrative in order to show us a bug or a cloud formation or a lizard, all beautifully photographed. And how he'll cease monologue and dialogue and just have music playing (great score).

These techniques lend an impressionistic, suggestive atmosphere to the film that I think elevates it to the position of great art. Peter Weir was more or less doing the same thing around the time, too.

Warren Oates is great in his brief appearance, of course.
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Re: Film club - Badlands

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 21 May 2009, 16:49

Snarfyguy wrote:I love how Malick so often takes time to stop developing the characters and advancing the narrative in order to show us a bug or a cloud formation or a lizard


That is a theme that runs through all of his films. He seems to like to remind us that human concerns are largely irrelevant to the rest of creation. The really employed the strategy effectively in The Thin Red Line during the central battle sequence. All of the insects and birds just continue to go about their business.

Watching Badlands again for this thread, I was struck this tim at some of Malick's subtle uses of surrealism. The most interesting comes during the section where we see Holly dump her fish out and we see Kit stand on the cow. Just after these two disturbing images Spacek's voiceover says the following:

And as he lay in bed, in the middle of the night, he always heard
a noise like somebody was holding a seashell against his ear. And
sometimes he'd see me coming toward him in beautiful white robes,
and I'd put my cold hand on his forehead.


The image that accompanies this is brief but odd. Kit is lying in a bed with a bunch of feathers spread out behind him. Next to him on his nightstand is Holly's fish (not in a bowl) just barely breathing.

Another haunting moment is just before the bounty hunters descend on them for the first time. Holly is in the woods putting on lipstick when a barely audible female voice begins to whisper poetry over the soundtrack as if warning them (though the poetry does not explicitly do so).

On first viewing Badlands generally comes off as a pretty straight forward film for a lot of folks, but in its quiet way it is as poetic as any film I can think of.
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Re: Film club - Badlands

Postby Still Baron » 04 Jun 2009, 05:56

Like many others, this is easily one of my favorite movies ever. I hadn't seen it in a long time, and hope it comes around on the big screen sometime soon (I honestly can't remember whether I've seen it that way or not, surely I have).

Professor Penk wrote:The most fascinating aspect, for me, was the film's take on the loneliness and isolation of small-town USA. It's something that has been portrayed so often in films and which is a truly strange phenomenon, to an outsider - the mix of the loud, social, urban side of American culture with the vast empty spaces it's placed in has rarely been demonstrated as well as it is here. The film really does capture the weirdness of the USA in a special way - by virtue of its familiarity and almost aggressive communality, the strange, frightening side of American life is more noticeable than it is in any other culture, and that is what really strikes me here.


Of course it is not strange or frightening to me, but I could see how that would be! Apart from the other things that have been talked about here, this movie is like almost no other to me as it is uniquely evocative of certain things about my childhood. The houses, the towns, the light, the landscape. It all hits a huge nerve and sets off a certain reverie. It was filmed in Colorado, apparently, but I guess a lot of the plains states are a lot alike.

With respect to other stuff, I don't think the girl is worthy of any diagnosis or is particularly cruel or insensitive (she felt bad about how her fish went down, I think). She's just a girl in the 50s in the middle of nowhere.
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Re: Film club - Badlands

Postby eelpie62 » 05 Jun 2009, 19:23

It's been decades since I saw it, I'll have to add it to the Netflix™ queue after reading all of the great posts above.
The main thing I remember about it was something I noticed while watching Sheen in The West Wing: Bartlett always puts a coat on over his head like it's a T-shirt in just the same way that Kit does. He does this whether it's a light coat, tux jacket or sport-coat. I always wondered whether Sheen was trying to make President Bartlett seem more like a rebel by doing the same thing he did when he played a mass-murderer.
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Re: Film club - Badlands

Postby Jeemo » 05 Jun 2009, 19:47

eelpie62 wrote:It's been decades since I saw it, I'll have to add it to the Netflix™ queue after reading all of the great posts above.
The main thing I remember about it was something I noticed while watching Sheen in The West Wing: Bartlett always puts a coat on over his head like it's a T-shirt in just the same way that Kit does. He does this whether it's a light coat, tux jacket or sport-coat. I always wondered whether Sheen was trying to make President Bartlett seem more like a rebel by doing the same thing he did when he played a mass-murderer.



We are watching The West Wing as well, and I noticed that straight away. I assume that this is a little thing that Sheen just does.
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Re: Film club - Badlands

Postby The Modernist » 13 Aug 2010, 12:10

bump for moving.