Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Thin Red Line [USA, 1998]

Nine Things about the Movie The Thin Red Line

1. I first saw this film about the year 2000. I wasn’t ready for it. All I remember thinking is, “this is the strangest and most beautiful war movie I’ve ever seen.” I had just discovered director Terrence Malick without realizing it.

2. I need to make a clarification. This is actually the strangest and most beautiful ant-war movie I’ve ever seen.

3. I’ve seen plenty of movies that show the physical and mental trauma of war. This is the most powerful depiction of the emotional and existential trauma of war that I’ve ever seen.

4. The actual plot of the movie involves one of the key battles of Guadalcanal in World War II. But it’s really about the inner monologues of soldiers talking about death, existence, and God.

5. The cast itself is strange and eclectic, containing performances from John Cusack, Jared Leto, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, Nick Stahl, George Clooney, and John Travolta, among others. Some of them only really appear for death scenes. There were also stars who were filmed and then cut out of the movie.

6. Sean Penn gives a wonderful performance as a sergeant who wishes he didn’t care about anything. Nick Nolte is awesome as a political and cowardly colonel. Adrien Brody is in one of the shortest and most memorable scenes, when his crew discovers a dead soldier. And it should have been obvious from Jim Caviezel’s role that 16 years later he would play Jesus on film.

7. There is a lot of physical violence in the film. But the real damage is dealt to the characters that live.

8. The title of the film does not become clear from the movie itself. It’s actually from a Kipling poem that calls foot soldiers “the thin red line of heroes.”

9. This is a gorgeous, profound film that a lot of people don’t like. It uses war against itself to show the savagery - and the humanity - of violence.