Great Movies I

film 4 of 5


Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 31, 2015

Bombshell! I wish I’d seen this right when it came out, and been knowledgeable and sensitive and humble enough to understand what I was seeing. How striking it must have seemed, how unparalleled, how unprecedented. What a shock it must have been! What a game-changer, for all that it derives from modernist American literature, as well as familiar veins of experience and interaction. Familiar, but that doesn’t really express it properly. Ancient more like, archetypal.

What’s really amazing is the way that Badlands is ancient and at the same time so contemporary. That’s pop-cultural, zeitgeist-related. But more than that, I think it’s that Malick, even at this early date, is clearly a vanguard writer, and artist. In this debut (!) he’s doing so much more than just reflecting. This is Sound and the Fury, Wise Blood, Housekeeping, Catcher in the Rye-calibre material. It’s homely, troublingly familiar, disturbingly accessible. At the same time you have a dim sense, just out of hearing and past your field of vision, of titanic proportions and stratospheric dimensions.

I would have felt that, I’ll bet, in 1973. If I’d been ready. Mind you I’ve seen it since, quite a few times. Interestingly, every time, I still feel all of those gobsmacked and rapturous things. Man! Some movie …