The Thin Red Line (1998)

Director: Terrence Malick

Major Actors: Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Nick Nolte and many more

IMDb rating 10/10 (click for page)

Terrence Malick has not made a bad film to date. With all due respect to Tree of Life, which is great film in its own right. The Thin Red Line is Malick’s best film to date. Before I begin, there is an interesting note about this film. After Malick made his first two films in the 70s, he went into hiding in a ways. He went twenty between the making of films and The Thin Red Line was worth that wait.

The first thing about this film is how long it takes to get to the first battle. Unlike Saving Private Ryan which you are thrown into a battle almost immediately  Instead the first quarter of film is this build up to the fighting. When it finally does arrive it feels more rewarding in having to wait that long to get to action sequences, which probably upset some of the war genre fans. In fact, you wait so long you actually wonder is there going to be any fighting at all, which is exactly what the soldiers were thinking. To conclude, this delay of action shows that the purpose of the film is beyond just showing battle scenes.

Even though there was a delay in battle scenes. This does not mean that there were not enough within the film. The first battle actually takes place in green hill covered in long grass, which is so beautiful is seems the exact place not to have a battle. But this is what war does. It takes place in scenery that should not be disturbed. The other battle scene that I want to note is the overtaking of the Japanese camp. This is an excellently shot scene. The camera follows the soldiers as they go through the camp taking control. This makes the viewer feel that they are in the scene with the soldiers. This is just one of the many examples of excellent camera work.

The last thing I want to write about, even though I could write about this movie forever, is the ensemble cast. It could be argued that this may be the best ensemble cast ever. Its like they decided to add every great american actor minus Tom Hanks and Matt Damon. With the three mentioned up top, you also have Adrein Brody, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson  John C. Reiley, and Elias Koteas with George Clooney and John Travolta making cameos. None of the actors pull out a performance for the ages. They all just play their part in the film and move on. This plays into the greatness of the film. It doesn’t matter who is on the screen you are just enjoying the film unfold.

In my opinion, this is one of the best World War II movies around. In fact, it is one of the best war movies. I put into the Apocalypse Now category. This is just such a beautiful film to watch and one that I look forward to watching again and again.


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