Certain films seem to exist outside time. They’re so enchanting that they suspend time’s steady march forward. Even after the ending, they leave the viewer feeling less like they just watched a movie and more like they traveled to another place. They create a world so enduring that it lingers and lives in the viewer long after its life on the screen. This has more to do, perhaps, with the mood–an inexplicable aura–of the film than any narrative elements. If these qualities were used as a sort of litmus test for the longevity of a film, then Badlands, Terrence Malick’s first feature-length film, would succeed wildly.
Badlands – 1973 – dir, Terrence Malick
In 1972 Terrence Malick ran out of money while editing Badlands, his first feature film, and with no studio backing or distribution deal, he turned back to freelance scriptwriting to drum up the last $35,000 he needed for 10 extra months of postproduction editing and sound rerecording. This was the second cash infusion that Malick personally invested into the feature, having earned about half of the initial funding for principle photography from his stint as a scriptwriter after graduating from the AFI Conservatory in 1969.