Badlands + Au hasard Balthazar

Double featureA time-bound, “greaser” version of modernity (jukeboxes, voluptuously curved cars, denim) and the timelessness of the natural world (bending saltgrass, sloping hills) swirl around each other in “Badlands” and “Au hasard Balthazar.”  

While these two worlds initially seem to be contrasted, each film ends up pointing to the inherent amorality that they share, and that echoes from the eternal into the present.  Each film demonstrates that both innocence and indifference are points situated on the continuum of cruelty.

Verbal and behavioral obliqueness characterize both films.  Each maintains an intentional mismatch between the surface and the true import of its narrative.  Each introduces an attachment, seemingly based on nothing more than distinction of attention (and possibly the desire for escape,) without further explicating its connective dynamics.

The characterization of police authorities, and their relationship to accused criminals, is strikingly consistent across the two films.  In both, escape has its price.  And in both, submission, as well as rebellion, is met with punishment.

For a marathon: Both “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Thelma & Louise” share with “Badlands” a depiction of the momentum with which desperate decisions accumulate and beget irreversible actions.

Something of the donkey in “Au hasard Balthazar” lives again in “Le Quattro Volte”’s lost goat, which has similar points to make about man’s relationship to animals.

(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “jkirkhart35” and “emmadiscovery” at Flickr)

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