Murder and Innocence: The Pastoral Chic of Badlands

badlands9_screen
In Terrence Malick's 1973 Badlands, Sissy Spacek plays Holly, the naive baton-twirling teenager on a murderous joyride in the Dakota hills with her older, psychotic boyfriend, Kit, played by Martin Sheen. As they shoot their way through the Badlands, Holly steals moments to play innocently with style and image, just like any normal, non-homicidal teenage girl would.
badlands1_screen
Seeking a safe haven from the police, the young Bonnie-and-Clyde duo hide in an elaborate tree-house complex surrounded by ethereal landscapes, cooing doves, and humming dragonflies. There, Holly walks riverside wrapped Grecian-style in a white sheet and experiments with liquid eyeliner and red lipstick in the tall grass. Wearing a puff-sleeve, mint-green sundress and viewing vista slides, she wonders what her future husband will be like, unaware of the consequences of her run from the law.
Advertisement
badlands13_screen
In her teeny white short shorts, peter-pan collar shirt, and strawberry-blond hair in rollers, Holly plays house as the two "hide out like spies." Kit is her denim-clad, gun-crazy James Dean-survivalist, shooting fish, bounty hunters, and devils in their bizarre, detached world. Loosely based on Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate's 1958 murder spree, the film uses Holly's diary-like narration, to turn the murderers into darling domestics with a Tiffany lamp on the table and chickens in the coop. It may be her fantasy, but as a starry-eyed, barefoot Holly stroll-dances to the tune "Love is Strange" in a red-and-white floral-print smock dress, her frightening detachment becomes all too real.
badlands7_screen
When the summer heat is closing in, forget the anti-social sweating and visit Public Farm 1 at P.S.1 instead to pet some cute, fuzzy baby chickens in a silver talon cuff by Pamela Love, Camilla Staerk cotton check shirt and a pair of Melody Ehsani mocassin boots.