The Thin Red Line

1998

Drama / War

114
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 79%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 80%
IMDb Rating 7.6

Synopsis


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Cast

Jim Caviezel as Pvt. Witt
Sean Penn as 1st Sgt. Edward Welsh
Nick Nolte as Lt. Col. Gordon Tall
Elias Koteas as Capt. James 'Bugger' Staros
720p 1080p
1.00 GB
1280*544
English
R
English
23.976 fps
2hr 50 min
P/S 22 / 166
2.20 GB
1920*816
English
R
English
23.976 fps
2hr 50 min
P/S 25 / 64

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by pmov 9 / 10

Malick's Heavenly War

This film is unlikely to be appreciated by audiences reared upon a diet of dumbed-down Hollywood action fare. However, if you're prepared to sit down and watch THE THIN RED LINE with no interruptions and give it the attention it deserves, you'll be rewarded with one of the most intelligent, poetic and stunningly beautiful films you're ever likely to see.

Director Terrence Malick's films are alive with a sense of pure cinema with every frame delivering such detail and richness that you could swear you were there. The only other person capable of bringing such an immediate sense of time and place and sheer nuance of film (although in a completely different way) is David Lean, another major league craftsman.

Here, again, Malick uses his customary voice-over device although this time as a means of vocalising the abstract thoughts of the various soldiers as they struggle to make some sense of the conflict. It's an interesting approach which allows the audience to identify with the characters in a far less superficial way than in, say, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (the film THE THIN RED LINE is most often and most unfairly compared to). Malick is also not afraid to take time to illustrate the continuing natural backdrop to the carnage. Mother Nature almost seems to be occupying a pivotal supporting role as a detached observer on the sidelines, calmly and inscrutably watching the chaos develop.

It's a measure of Malick's complete disinterest with the normal conventions of Hollywood that actors such as Lucas Haas, Vigo Mortensen, Jason Patric, Mickey Rourke, Martin Sheen and Billy Bob Thornton all spent months in Queensland Australia and the Solomon Islands filming roles that ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor. Blink and you'll also miss major marquee players such as John Travolta and George Clooney. The stand-out performances come from Jim Caviezel and, especially, Nick Nolte.

Nolte just seems to be getting better and better as he gets older and his portrayal of tyrant Colonel Tall is something to see. I have never seen anyone express such an impotent sense of rage, anger and fury than Nolte does here. It's a fantastic performance from a real pro and it's a mystery to me why he didn't get an Oscar.

John Toll's pristine cinematography and Hans Zimmer's wonderfully evocative (Oscar-winning) score are other strong elements. The unusual music and visuals contrast so well that Malick sometimes fades out the noise of the shouting, explosions and guns, an effect that only serves to heighten the emotional power of the experience further.

You won't see a more beautiful film about the horrors of war. Movies like this make the task of trawling through the weekly diet of dumb formulaic junk served up by Hollywood almost seem worthwhile.

Reviewed by (gabbagabbahey@erols.com) 10 / 10

A diagnosis


The greatest fault of The Thin Red Line was its timing - it was released at around the same time as Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. While most people dismissed The Thin Red Line as the `other' World War II movie of 1998, it's actually a very different kind of film - the film itself is not hurt by similarity to Ryan but was hurt commercially due to the misconception. It's easy to forget that Red was nominated for seven Oscars. This is an extraordinary film that can stand well on its own next to Ryan.

Saving Private Ryan was significant in that it visually depicted war in a realistic, gritty way. The Thin Red Line's focus is more philosophical. It is about the contradiction between the beauty of nature and the destructive nature of men. The movie cuts continuously between the external struggle of American GIs fighting to take a crucial hill from Japanese occupation on Guadalcanal - and more importantly, the internal chaos of war as every man tries to come to his own terms about matters such as morals, death, God, and love.

Unlike in Saving Private Ryan, there is nothing patriotic about this movie. In fact, there probably has never been a more anti-war film. The fighting men here are disillusioned, lost, and frightened. They don't fight for their country or "democracy" - they fight because they have to. The only priorities are survival, and - for the more humane - caring for their comrades. Renowned composer Hans Zimmer - who won an Oscar nomination for his work-captures the grim mood perfectly and allows us to hear the men's thoughts.

The characters are portrayed by a strong ensemble cast. Acting is uniformly excellent, especially Nick Nolte as Colonel Tall, who is the unfeeling commander of the ground offensive on Guadalcanal. Thoroughly unlikable, he is the closest thing to a villain in the movie. After studying war for an untold number of years, Tall sees Guadalcanal as his chance to prove himself and move up in the ranks - the men are only a tool to accomplish this goal and expendable. In one crucial scene, he orders a captain (played by Elias Koteas, in another outstanding role) to lead his men to a frontal assault against a Japanese controlled hill. When the captain suggests a more logical alternative, the colonel screams: "You are not gonna take your men around in the jungle to avoid a goddamn fight!" To this, the captain replies, `I've lived with these men, sir, for two and a half years and I will not order them all to their deaths.' Later, when the hill is taken, he is dismissed of his duties as Tall sees him as a threat to the successful achievement of his goal. Certainly, not every commander must have been that coldhearted and selfish, but surely some were, though not necessarily to that extreme.

While the acting is very good, much of the cast is relatively unknown and it can initially be hard to distinguish the characters from each other as they may appear to be very similar. They are all about the same age, have dirt smeared over their faces, and wear helmets and the same military garb. Also, the stars in this movie have very small roles. George Clooney and John Travolta are credited with starring roles while really little more than extras - clearly for marketing purposes. You will not see more than two minutes of each.

One of the main themes of the movie is the contrast between nature and men's destructiveness in war. The director, Terrence Malick, hired cinematographer John Toll to capture this on camera, and towards achieving that goal they couldn't have been more successful. The almost surreal scenery is nothing short of stunning and has the same visual impact as any special effect. The beauty of nature is always present, even when it is a setting for battle of destruction, and death.

Though the battle scenes fall short of the frightening realism in Saving Private Ryan, they are heads and soldiers above every previous attempt. One truly gets the sense that war is a chaotic, often hopeless environment where it is only a matter of luck whether you survive or get killed.


`How did we lose the good that was given us? Or let it slip away? Scatter it carelessly ... trade it for what has no worth?' The film is filled with such poetic questions as to which there are no real answers. This is definitely not a party movie. There isn't anything uplifting about it - it is downright depressing. Asides from entertainment value, however, this is a film that makes you think.

Reviewed by newonpluto 5 / 10

every man fights his own war...


what many people do not know is that this film, directed by terence malick, is without question the reason that Shakespeare in Love won the best picture oscar over the much favored Saving Private Ryan. why am i saying this? first let's deal with the movie. long? yes. too much? sometimes. but is it good? i can not begin to describe the beauty of this film.

about the oscars, i only watched the film after its surprise nomination for best picture. i had seen the competition already, and it was time to check out the fifth nominee. i went to the theatre myself, and came out three hours later, went home, and i cried. not only because i was disturbed, but i loved every single character in the film. i wanted to be there for them, cry with them, fight their battle. many people who have watched the film have said the same thing to me.

the Thin Red Line is sometimes painful to watch, but only because of its realistic juxtaposition of humanity, philosophy, and the terror of war. the film does not delve into any historical fact about Guadalcanal, except that the battle itself was terrifying (as is any battle). the characters introduce themselves through voice-over narration, which accompanies much of the action. and speaking of action, there is not much in the film. more images. images of war and the lives these soldiers left behind. this was Terence Malick's intent, of course, and many people were insulted and thought it was his own pretentious self getting the best of him. "boy he's a genius.. must he show it??" sometimes it is a little pretentious, but the film would've been "just another WWII film" if it was out of Malick's hands.

i can not understand why Sean Penn is billed as the top actor or the main character of this film. he was there a lot, but the film is carried by Jim Caviezel as the beautiful and ethereal private Witt. words can not describe this performance. with as few lines as he had, Caviezel portrays the symbolic soul of Witt, and by the end of the film he will break your heart. also excellent performances from Nick Nolte and the understated Elias Koteas, who can stretch creepy (Crash) to sympathetic in the blink of an eye.

now.. let's consider hollywood. sure they love Spielberg, and sure Private Ryan was a masterpiece (and it really was), but nobody even expected the Thin Red Line to get seven oscar nods, especially for best picture. but Shakespeare in Love was the crowd pleaser, and the other two were epic war films. most hollywood "artsy" people are anti-war.. kind of like the Thin Red Line. Private Ryan seemed to be MUCH more patriotic "pro-america" than the other. so if we've got anti-war on one side, and patriotism on the other... open and shut. the votes were split between the two, and Shakespeare emerged victorious. too bad.

anyway... the Thin Red Line was definitely better than Shakespeare, and definitely a completely different film from Spielberg's. John Toll's cinematography and Hans Zimmer's score work together to convey the tone of Malick's lyrical and poetic direction, and both should have won oscars. this film is nothing short of breath-taking, though understandably not for the average american moviegoer.

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