In 1959, Kit (Martin Sheen), who has killed several people, and his new girlfriend Holly (Sissy Spacek), who watched him do it, are adrift in a double fantasy of crime and punishment across South Dakota and Montana. They’re playing make-believe but the bullets and bloodshed are very real.
The first of writer/director Terrence Malick’s three landmark films (1978’s Days of Heaven and 1998’s The Thin Red Line are the others) was inspired by a real-life 1958 Midwestern killing spree. Malick imaginatively transforms their story into a provocative study of people alienated from everyday life – but fascinating to us. Beautifully shot and memorably acted, Badlands is a spellbinding journey.