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Terrence Malick's big-screen debut arrives in high-definition with a big, beautiful Criterion stamp of approval....
Criterion / 93 Minutes / 1973 / Unrated / Street Date: March 19, 2013
It’s quite literally a cinephile’s dream come true. I remember being in college in the late 1990s and hearing a rumbling of a nearby screening of two impossible-to-find movies from the 1970s made by a guy named Terrence Malick who wore a Pynchon-esque vestige of reclusive mystery in real life (the guy still forbids people from snapping photos). Like virtually everyone who gets a chance to experience Badlands and Days of Heaven, I fell immediately and conclusively in love with both these pieces of cinematic majesty and the soul who concocted them, and now I’m looking at a brand-new, fully restored high-definition version of one of them on my home screen (the other’s Blu-ray edition is nestled snugly on the shelf nearby).
And now Malick’s making movies again – maybe even too many. He found surprising adoration for his mind-shifting masterpiece The Tree of Life (even nabbing a Best Director nomination in the process), and with To the Wonder slated for an April USA release and another project about the Austin music scene probably hot on its heels, the guy has gone from disenfranchised ex-artist to bona fide overachiever. But regardless of what the future holds for Terry, at least we now have a pristine edition of Badlands to enjoy.
To be brief, this Criterion disc is exceptional. The movie itself – a crime fantasia with Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek – is as breezy and lived-in as ever, and if anything, a new viewing of the film brings to light its firmly emotional dramatic efficiency. Badlands wastes no time with filler or romantic buildup: this is a film that doesn’t build with tension as much as it unfolds, rendering the agony and ecstasy of its narrative with earnest believability. And now we get to experience it as often as we want in marvelous high-definition. I can’t get over it….