Martin sheen's performance as Kit is far more in depth and brilliantly crafted than he has recieved credit for, exploring behavioral characteristics that precede his homicides, which reveal Kit's apparent sociopathic mannerisms such as megalomania, lack of remorse and cruelty to animals, traits which are infamous in the field of psychiatristy as early indications of psychopathy. Kit and Holly's detachment and cold manner towards the preceedings are far more chilling than any outburst of rage that is standard in numerous other movies, with Holly so seperated from reality at the hands of her lover, that she feels no remorse for the murders she witnesses. The movie creates a spellbinding chemistry between the two, juxtaposing the childlike innocence of Holly, with the reserved attitude of Sheen's persona. Kit's apathetic and emotionless state acts as a precursor for Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle, a character also swamped with delusion and paranoia, predating De Niro's performance by almost 3 years.
Badland's influence on pop culture over the past 30 years is evident, using the romantic story of two anti-heroes driving across America as inspiration to everything from Thelma and Louise, to Bruce Springsteen. Quentin Tarantino's two screenplays for Natural Born Killers and True Romance feature similar story lines to Badlands, with the latter even mimicking a similar light, xylophone composition, but whereas Badlands uses this to affect, blending the score with Holly's childlike narration to create the illusion that this may be taking place in her head, True Romance uses it lavishly, making it seem out of place with the themes of the film. Although the film may have been interpreted into, or inspired various works over the years, Badlands remains as not only a phenomenal directorial début, but as one of the most significant films to be released in a period that is considered to be the height of film making.
words by danny walker.