The Thin Red Line

  • Film
  • War films
We're unlikely to see a more extraordinary Hollywood movie in 1999 than Malick's masterpiece, a stunning piece of work from one of cinema's true visionaries. Typically for Malick, the story, adapted from James Jones' novel, is simple and straightforward, charting the fortunes of a US army platoon as they attempt, against all odds, to wrest control of Guadalcanal from the Japanese. Nothing very unusual happens: soldiers get killed, go crazy with fear, fall out with superiors, and try to find ways of surviving with body and mind intact. But while Malick is not overly preoccupied with plot, the film's three hours are far from empty: thematically, philosophically and spiritually, no war movie has been so profoundly rich. For it's not just an essay on the hellish madness of war or a tribute to courage under fire, but a mythic, almost pantheist meditation on the role of conflict, violence and death in nature. With its multiple voice-overs representing the thoughts and feelings of men facing death, its imagery of flora and fauna, its philosophical, religious and literary allusions, and its cogent central metaphor of paradise lost, it's a genuinely epic ciné-poem that essentially sidesteps history, politics and conventional ethics to deal with war as an absolute, inevitable and eternal facet of existence.

Release details

Duration: 170 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Terrence Malick
Screenwriter: Terrence Malick
Cast: Elias Koteas
Woody Harrelson
George Clooney
Ben Chaplin
John Cusack
Sean Penn
Nick Nolte
John Travolta
John Savage
James Caviezel
Adrien Brody

Average User Rating

4.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|5
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George

Poetry indeed. Film at its most artful. One of the best 10 films ever made. No wonder Scorcese rated it as his number 2 best film of the 1990s.

George

Poetry indeed. Film at its most artful. One of the best 10 films ever made. No wonder Scorcese rated it as his number 2 best film of the 1990s.

yduric

Fantastic. Absolutely unforgettable. This is a war film that resembles no other and I doubt there will be another like it in this genre. I just finished watching it for the second time and definitely confirm my verdict: this film is so well made that it gives you the impression of 'dreaming awake'.

yduric

Fantastic. Absolutely unforgettable. This is a war film that resembles no other and I doubt there will be another like it in this genre. I just finished watching it for the second time and definitely confirm my verdict: this film is so well made that it gives you the impression of 'dreaming awake'.