There’s essentially nothing to say about “Badlands,” Terrence Malick’s first film, that hasn’t already been said. The Bonnie and Clyde story of an impressionable young girl and the bad boy who sweeps her away from a quiet life marked the beginnings of Malick’s enigmatic career and status as a master, and anyone who has seen the 1973 starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek can attest to that.
For those who haven’t seen “Badlands,” Criterion just gave it a proper Blu-ray release, complete with a stunning 4k digital transfer. Like Criterion’s previous Malick releases, “Days of Heaven” and “The Thin Red Line,” watching “Badlands” leaves you with the distinct impression that the Blu-ray edition of these particular releases is the only way to see these films at home.
Aside from the discs beautiful presentation, “Badlands” is the logical place to begin a study of Malick’s films for a number of reasons. The director’s first film quickly establishes the stylistic flourishes that would come to define his vision, all the while being his most accessible film. Malick’s career followed a clear trajectory that makes watching his films from the beginning a richer experience and one that illustrates the growth of a visionary and a poet.
After taking in “Badlands,” the disc’s extras provide a world of insight that will satisfy the natural urge to know more after watching a Malick movie for the first time. “Making ’Badlands’ ” is a new documentary that includes interviews with Spacek and Sheen, plus you can take in a fascinating interview with Malick’s editor, Billy Weber.
“Badlands” on Criterion Blu-ray is simply an experience that any movie lover cannot afford to miss.