58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cinematographer's dream - a visual poem!
This is by no means a conventional war film but it is, nonetheless, one of the finest portrayals of war that you are ever likely to see. The film was not on my radar and I discovered it more by accident than design. It was first released in 1998 and was somewhat eclipsed by `Saving Private Ryan' which was released slightly earlier. Nominated for 7 Academy Awards this...
Published on 19 May 2011 by Nigel Mc
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad - Could have been better
Put simply, I was disappointed by this film. I watched it 10 years too late, and times have changed, and things have moved on. It tries too hard to be a 'classic', and misses out on the fundamentals. Added to which, special effects, budgets, and audience expectations have grown in the years since this was made, and sometimes it is true - you can never go back.
Published 6 months ago by MR
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cinematographer's dream - a visual poem!,
This review is from: The Thin Red Line [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)This is by no means a conventional war film but it is, nonetheless, one of the finest portrayals of war that you are ever likely to see. The film was not on my radar and I discovered it more by accident than design. It was first released in 1998 and was somewhat eclipsed by `Saving Private Ryan' which was released slightly earlier. Nominated for 7 Academy Awards this film failed to get a single Oscar. The more that I learn about the way these award systems operate and the complexities of the whole film distribution system, the less confidence I have of their value. In many ways `the Thin Red Line' is superior to Spielberg's war epic.
Directed by the reclusive Terrence Malick, the film is an adaptation of a World War II novel by James Jones (From Here to Eternity) about the battle for Guadalcanal. American soldiers land on the island hoping to secure it from the Japanese. This film does not follow the usual path taken by other war stories and unlike `Ryan' - which begins explosively, this film takes about 40 minutes before a single shot is fired! This long prologue is used to good effect as an introduction to the main characters and some carefully selected flashbacks to their lives pre-war. The tension to the film is slowly uncoiled as the troopships approach Guadalcanal Island. This is done quietly and thoughtfully and gives the viewer a good idea of the stresses and anxieties of the soldiers as they approach this life-changing situation.
The story is told through the eyes of 5 men of C Company and the visual images are simply amazing. This is where Malick excels. He has produced a film that is a cinematographer's dream where almost every shot is carefully composed as if it was to be entered in a photographic exhibition. I watched the film in the newly restored Blu-ray version and the video is absolutely fantastic with superb colour palette and pristine sharp pictures throughout. I watched this dvd through a projector and the video quality is one of the finest I have ever seen - and that includes some pretty stiff competition.
Of course, there have been many fine war films and who am I to say whether this film is better than `Saving Private Ryan', `Apocalypse Now' or the Oliver Stone Trilogy. It is certainly up there with the very best and for my money it is sufficiently unique to stand out from the crowd. All human characteristics are shown in this film, bravery, fear, uncertainty, blind ambition to name but a few. However, for me the overwhelming image is of the chaos of war and uncertainty of such a fast moving situation. For a lot of the time the enemy cannot be seen and with explosions and gunfire all around you it is not difficult to imagine casualties caused by friendly fire. It is havoc and the film graphically shows the toll that all this takes on soldiers both in terms of exhaustion - both mental and physical, pain, injury, disillusionment and ultimately death.
However, notwithstanding this reality the film is much, much more than this. I found the violence less graphic than in Ryan and the director takes efforts not to dwell on unnecessary gratuitous violent images. This film is very much a visual, as well as a vocal poem. The film uses hauntingly beautiful music throughout both by the highly talented Hans Zimmer and also by other classical composers. Early on in the film there is an extract from `In paradisum' from Faure's Requiem. This beautiful piece of music is used in a water scene and the combined effect of the music and cinematography is simply amazing. There are many other scenes where the camera is used in taking shots from unusual angles and this gives an enhanced effect to the scene as is the case when a young woman is swinging on a child's swing. Poetry in motion!
The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and it is magnificent. There are a number of excellent extras on this film including an interesting actors perspective and an interview with Hans Zimmer - both in high definition. I have not yet had time to look at the other extras.
This is a truly wonderful film. Highly recommended,
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "In paradisum' from Faure's Requiem..,
This review is from: The Thin Red Line [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)This Terreence Malick epic looks stunning on blue-ray. It is worth the extra cash for the purchase. I own the VHS, the dvd, both soundtracks and now this blue-Ray.
Malick is the last true Poet of maverick American Cinema. His movies follow no conventions or rules; his career follows no rules or conventions. Thin Red Line (nominated for seven Oscars) opens with a question:
"Why does nature contend with itself?"
It shows a crocodile- a killing machine. Moments later, we see men (soldiers) who prove more deadly than crocodiles; we see a dying bird- its wing shattered by gunfire, pulling itself along the ground. In a way the film is not about war at all, but simply about the way in which all living beings are founded on the necessity of killing one another.
After 20 years away from film-making, elusive director Terence Malick returned with this freeform WW2 movie based on the James Jones books ('Thin Red Line' and extracts from the classic 'From here to Eternity'), which floats around the WW2 battle for Guadalcanal, pondering the place of conflict and pondering our place on this planet and the eternal scheme of things. The films essence lies not with the famous actors, but in Malick's fusion of abstract voice-overs and stunning images over beautiful music (Hans Zimmer and Melanesian chanting). It's a richly textured, slowly paced, visually stunning epic of the effects of war that hypnotises the viewer with its tapestry of sights, sounds and colours.
"This great evil. Where does it come from? How'd it steal into the world? What seed, what root did it grow from? Who's doin' this? Who's killin' us? Robbing us of life and light. Mockin' us with the sight of what we might've known. Does our ruin benefit the earth? Does it help the grass to grow, the sun to shine? Is this darkness in you, too? Have you passed to this night?"
This amazing movie is a tone poem that may throw some mentally Challenged viewers through its use of interior monologues and lack of action.
"Where is it that we were together? Who were you that I lived with? The brother. The friend. Darkness, light. Strife and love. Are they the workings of one mind? The features of the same face? Oh, my soul. Let me be in you now. Look out through my eyes. Look out at the things you made. All things shining."
Malick was 57 years old when he directed this epic. It would be great if we could use stem cell research to knock 30 years off his age. Perhaps then we could give him a billion pounds to make a dozenn or two dozen films to last through the ages......no?
32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pacifica,
A scene depicting two soldiers getting shot while approaching a bunker is superbly complimented by the sun peaking out from the clouds just after they have fallen and disappeared into the tall grass. The absolute tension and thick air of the pre-dawn build-up to the attack with Nick Nolte and John Travolta is one of the greatest scenes of tension I have witnessed.
Personal narratives and agendas throughout the film flood the viewer with emotions and feelings that you wouldn't normally associate with a war film. The soundtrack here is also one of the film's strong points and effortlessly entwines itself into the path of the edits. Engrossing, beautiful and an absolute pleasure to immerse yourself into.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, emotive cinema; tainted by self-indulgence,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Thin Red Line (Collector's Edition) [VHS]  (VHS Tape)Comparisons with Spielberg's contemporaneous Saving Private Ryan have been made and made again. Leave them to one side. You must see both these films.
Thin Red Line has the compelling quality of not being constrained by a narrative. It really seems to follow the fortunes of a group of men at war without concern for dramatic effect, plot, or any of the things which are so absent from our own real lives - whether we're at war or on our daily commute. Thus the great action scenes happen early on, then fade out. And time after time after time, the viewer is left thinking "does it end now?". Infantrymen in the Pacific must have thought the same.
Does this make for a fun, unchallenging evening's cinema? No. If you want one, go elsewhere. But the battle scenes, though different to Ryan, have a similarly authentic feel; and many of the cameo performances are great. Put in the effort and watch this film.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best war film ever?,
This review is from: Criterion Collection: Thin Red Line [Blu-ray]  [US Import] (Blu-ray)This is a truly fantastic film.
More of a search into the human soul than your typical war film- instead master director Terrence Malick uses the setting of war, man's most destructive device, to explore the nature of mankind.
Hugely memorable and moving film, and one of my favourites. The acting is tremendous, the cinematography breathtaking and the score is Hans Zimmer's best to date.
If you want a film to make you reflect, I urge you to give this a chance to wow you.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's not some other world out there where everything's going to be ok. There's just this one.,
I have to say in my opinion the guy may be a genius (a much abused word these days - apparently Simon Cowell/Madonna/Ant and Dec are all geniuses too...)I think 'The New World' is the best film of the 2000's and I think this was the best film of the 1990's.
He reminds me in some way of Kubrick - but Kubrick with a soul. The film is beautiful, scary, uplifting, depressing - all usually within the space of 5 minutes. The scene where the U.S. troops storm through a Japanese camp in the early morning fog is far scarier than any horror film.
It concerns the American assault on Guadalcanal in the Second World War but you get the feeling Malick doesn't really care about the rights and wrongs of the war - it's a film about young men who's lives may end at any second and how precious each life is (no matter what side they're on). Why are they here? Why are they suffering such degradation? `War don`t ennoble men. Turns them into dogs. Poisons the soul`. He doesn't have answers - he's just asking you to look. And all the time life goes on, as best it can, around the war - birds fly, fish swim, the local people laugh, cry, argue - live.
Everything about the film works - the photography, the score, the acting - at times it's quite hard to tell one soldier from another and I get the feeling that's deliberate - they're all one under the skin.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprising horrific, steadfastly human,
Over the course of the assult we learn something of the hopes, fears and aspirations of the American Officers and men, the terror of conflict and the memories of home.
The film adds a human value to war that I have rarely seen in a movie before, notably displaying the vunerability of the Japanese captured as much as the horror of the American losses.
The Thin Red Line, it has to be said, is not a war movie in the traditional sense- and should not be thought of as such- instead a poetic and beautifully shot exploration of what how war changes humanity, shot in the context of the Pacific conflict.
The excellent cast and skilled direction make this a compelling film, if somewhat slow and philosophical for some tastes. Otherwise, highly recommended.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For once a war movie that doesn't glorify war,
This review is from: Thin Red Line [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)Of all the war movies, that I have seen, I would rate this one as one of the best. It depicts the horrors and meaninglessness of war, instead of glorifying it, and how it destroys the people participating in it. This movie shows war from a personal perspective with much work done in showing the soldiers emotions and their dilemmas of conscience. It is a thin red line between sanity and insanity that is being tread.
Good acting and one where Sean Penn stood out as an actor for me.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best war films ever!,
Its a testimony to how good the story/script is and the reputation of the director Terence Malick by how many famous actors wanted to appear in the film. Some like Nick Nolte and Sean Penn appear throughout the move, others like George Clooney and John Travola only have brief scenes and others like Nicholas Cage and Martin Sheen were apparently cut out to make the nearly 3 hour length of the film more "acceptable."
Some people dont like this film because of its length and that it takes 40 mins before the first battle starts but I feel this mirrors real life, in that you dont flick a switch and something starts and then stops in war, things build up especially battles. We see the men cooped up on the transport ship with the tension building, the beach assault with a mysteriously missing enemy, the march through the endless jungle, passing wounded going the over way and the ever present nature/wildlife which seems indifferent to the wars of man. The locals for the most part certainly do (although in reality, and in some scenes, they did assist the Allies against the hated Japanese who abused their women and made slaves of the men.)
When the action begins it explodes, if you like thoughtful interesting films that make you think and that move you watch The Thin Red Line. It should have 10 stars.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart Renching,
The film works so well because of the binary opposition of the beauty of creation and the distructiveness of man. It starts with scenes of locals of Guadalcanal singing there hearts out to God and depicts there ability to survive in a beautiful creation of God's. Then the opposite is shown of man coming from far away continents and destroying that creation.
This film is not for the arrogant or foolish, it is for those who want to go through a range of emotions and depths of psychology and philosophy. This film absorbs you and spits you out, confused on where you stand, which is why people rebuke this film.
It is a film you need to appreicate by watching a dozen times, because every time there is something else to learn. This is a film that does not even pay tribute to the actors which is why there appears to be no main character(s).
As far as a war film, the special effects are good, Saving Private Ryan did better, but it is not a film that has predominately focused on special effects, though they're pretty good.
Compared to Saving Private Ryan it wins, because it is not a trigger-happy American propaganda film, but a film that depicts and challenges man's inhumanity rather than gloryfying it. Action just does not make a war film by itself.
The sound track is fantastic! ie. the Melanesian Choirs. I loved it before I was a Christian, now I understand why that music is so powerful and why in the beginning of the film it fits the euphoric atmosphere that is quickly stolen away by war.
This film is in a league of its own.
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The Thin Red Line [Blu-ray]  by Terrence Malick (Blu-ray - 2011)