The Thin Red Line (1998)


trl“War don’t ennoble men. It turns them into dogs… poisons the soul.” – Private Witt

Number of Times Seen – 2 (28 May 1999 and 5 Nov 2016)

Brief Synopsis – The story of the assault of Guadalcanal during the Pacific campaign of World War Two told from the perspective of numerous soldiers who fought there.

My Take on it – I saw this movie in the theater on a Friday afternoon 17+ years ago and hated it so much that I couldn’t bring myself to get past the first five minutes of it ever since.

I’ve never been a fan of Director Terrance Malick’s style in particular and movies that try to tell stories from an existential or philosophical level instead of telling a straight story.

Thankfully, my good friend Dan of Slipthroughmovies is a huge fan of this film and convinced me to give it another shot after being so turned off it for such a long time.

There is a great story about war and what happens during battle to normal men when faced with a life or death situation, but it is buried deep down below all of Malick’s frequent philosophical waxing.

The movie is narrated by (if I counted correctly) 8 different characters which makes thing a bit confusing because you don’t always know who is talking and telling us his feelings of what is going on.

All taht being said, the cast is superb and has so many known and unknown actors fighting for screen time.

This film is nearly 3 hours and many of the characters have such little screen time that it isn’t always easy to focus on who is doing what and where.

The fact that lots of A-List actors filmed scenes that didn’t make the final cut says a lot about what Malick attempted here and on a whole succeeded, but fails during some crucial points.

The camera work and cinematography is unbelievable here and it’s amazing watching the landscape that seem so peaceful as they carry the weight of the men fighting and dying on that land in order to secure it for themselves.

I must say that I’m glad I finally saw this again because I can now appreciate many aspects of it so much more now despite the fact that I still believe that this would have been an even better (anti-) war film had they filmed it as a straight story.

Perhaps this is a sign that I should try out some more of Malick’s films…. maybe.

Bottom Line – Has a great story buried deep here that is obscured by the attempt to tell it from an existential and philosophical perspective instead of as a straight (anti-) war movie. Amazing cast that is punctuated even more by the name of those that fell to the cutting room floor (see trivia below).  Unbelievable camerawork and cinematography shows the irony of war and the beautiful landscape that carried the men fighting against one another.  Glad I finally rewatched it after so many years of hating it because it truly is much better than I recalled. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Billy Bob Thornton recorded a narration for the three-hour-plus epic under the supervision of director Terrence Malick. However, the final print of the film has voice-overs by eight of the main characters in the film; none of the narration from Thornton is in the final print. In addition, several other stars who filmed scenes were left on the cutting-room floor, including Bill Pullman, Gary Oldman, Lukas Haas, Viggo Mortensen, Martin Sheen, Jason Patric, and Mickey Rourke. (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy

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3 thoughts on “The Thin Red Line (1998)

  1. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1998 |

  2. Pingback: Did They Get it Right? – Best Picture – Oscars 1998 |

  3. Pingback: Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1998 |

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