Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Thin Red Line

1998 had two big name World War II movies released. Those were Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line. There has been debate on which is better, but I can't say which one is better just yet.

In 1943, the first major US offensive of World War II is drawing to a close on the South Pacific island of Guadalcanal. To put an end to this campaign, the United States Army arrives with a full division of troops and equipment, deployed to break the last resistance of the Japanese. The exploits of the division are seen from a number of perspectives amongst the soldiers to include war weary Sgt. Welsh (Sean Penn); power hungry Lt. Col. Tall (Nick Nolte); Pvt. Witt (James Caviezel), who has known only desertion and AWOL; and Capt. Staros (Elias Koteas), who is struggling with his abilities as a leader.

The cast for The Thin Red Line is star-studded. Along with Penn, Nolte and Caviezel, the cast includes Adrien Brody, John C. Reilly, Woody Harrelson and John Cusack in supporting roles, and John Travolta, Tim Blake Nelson and George Clooney in bit parts. Most war movies are excellent character studies since they show what a certain character does in a situation where their life literally depends on it. And The Thin Red Line is just that. Terrence Malick's eye for beauty in every image just blew me away in this. War is hell, but there is also a beauty in it.

My Rating: *****


  1. I prefer this over Saving Private Ryan. I think this is the craziest cast many ever. It has so many actors still working today. One of the most gorgeous action films of all time.

  2. It's interesting - the cast is EPIC, and we hear about how like 50 other major stars had their roles completely editied out. I'd love to see the original six+ hour cut they ended up with after they wrapped filming

  3. Just bought the Criterion dvd of this a few weeks ago, and have loved getting re-acquainted with it.

    back in1998, I was really caught off-guard by this movie, as I'd already been rocked by my new favorite movie, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Because this film is so different, I didn't know how to react and dug in with disdain.

    Through the years though, it's stuck with me...and stuck with me...and stuck with me. In time I came to understand it, and now consider it to be a tremendously moving alternate take on the hell of war, and likewise its meaninglessness to the planet that was here before we were...and will remain long after we're gone.

  4. I haven't seen this in such a long time, but in all honesty I wish I watched it on a bigger screen. The images in this are just amazing, but even that's an understatement.

  5. My favorite Terrence Malick movie and one of my favorite flick of all-time!


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