Episode 2

Badlands (1973) and Harold and Maude (1971)

The second film in our Risqué Romance cycle is Terrence Malick's debut film, Badlands (1973)

Loosely based on the real-life murdering spree committed by Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate in the late 1950s, Badlands quickly steers clear of true crime tropes and traditional story structure. While Terrence Malick is at his least idiosyncratic here, the vibe and flow of the film are resolutely unique and unexpected. Perhaps the strange pacing and narrative focus should have been expected from a Hollywood outsider who nearly got his Ph.D. studying the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger. The fully colored lens through which Malick displays the violent journey of Kit and Holly (Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek) has not been drained of its vibrancy despite being fifty years old. The film shows how fame can easily dislocate the guttural horror of violence, a sophisticated message that has only strengthened over the decades.

For our chaser film, we discuss the twee-influence of Harold and Maude (1971). The gender roles are reversed in this March-December romance, and we debate how this alteration affects the whimsy that props up this pitch-black comedy.