In 1973, The New American Cinema was well underway. The French New Wave had blown the doors of cinema open as to what was possible, and American movies like Bonnie & Clyde (Penn, 1967) and The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah, 1969) had broken down barriers and led the way for a new crop of young filmmakers. The closing film for the New York Film Festival was not only the impressive debut of writer/producer/director Terrence Malick, it was also a unique and lasting look at the American criminal. Loosely based on the real life exploits of serial killer, Charles Starkweather and his fourteen year-old girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, Badlands also drew influence from French New Wave and American literature (mainly Mark Twain and Robert Lewis Stevenson). In this tale of criminals on the run in America’s Heartland, Malick wove together a fairy tale steeped in philosophy, American vistas, and role-playing.