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February 8 @ 6:00 pm

Playing in the CCA Cinema

Part of CCA’s monthly Closer Looks film discussion series

(United States, 1973)/Selected by Paul Barnes

An impressionable teenage girl from a dead-end town (Sissy Spacek) and her older greaser boyfriend (Martin Sheen) embark on a killing spree in the South Dakota badlands.

“Terrence Malick’s Badlands is one of the most astonishing feature film debuts in cinema history. When I first saw it at the New York Film Festival in 1973, I was totally captivated – in all my avid moviegoing it had never seen anything quite like it. I wandered the streets of New York for hours trying to replay the film in my head, not wanting to let it go.

The Criterion Collection perhaps expresses it best, “Badlands announced the arrival of a major talent: Terrence Malick. His impressionistic take on the notorious Charles Starkweather killing spree of the late 1950s uses a serial-killer narrative as a springboard for an oblique teenage romance, lovingly and idiosyncratically enacted by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, in their first great roles. The film introduced many of the elements that would earn Malick his passionate following: the enigmatic approach to narrative and character, the unusual use of voice-over, the juxtaposition of human violence with natural beauty, the poetic investigation of American dreams and nightmares. This debut has spawned countless imitations, but none have equaled its strange sublimity.

Spacek’s character Holly describes her life as if she’s writing pulp fiction. “Little did I realize,” she tells us, “that what began in the alleys and back ways of this quiet town would end in the Badlands of Montana.” It is the wondering narrative voice that lingers beneath all of Terrence Malick’s films, sometimes unspoken: Human lives diminish beneath the overarching majesty of the world.”

–Paul Barnes

Director/writer: Terrence Malick
Features: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Warren Oates
Run time: 1 hr. 34 min.
Film: Action, Crime, Drama
Language: English

Closer Looks is an in-depth cinema series curated by the award-winning filmmaker and editor Paul Barnes, film critic and writer David N. Meyer, and founder/programmer of local microcinema No Name Cinema, Justin Clifford Rhody. The series showcases a broad range of eras, regions, and subjects, all unified by their integral contribution to the history of cinema as an art form. Each film screening is followed by an in-depth overview and audience conversation by the presenters to contextualize and explore the importance of the evening’s film.

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Santa Fe, NM 87505 United States
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