Nov 2, 2011

The thin red line[1998]

I have a love and hate relationship with Terence Malick. You know that feeling when you're pissed off at someone, say your girlfriend/boyfriend, and you just want to slap him/her, but, in the same time, god, you just love her/him and get the urge to kiss. When I saw Tree of Life, I was in a constant battle between slapping and kissing!This movie had a different situation!

"The thin red line" is a fantastic movie! Everything is wonderful, from the cinematography, to the script, direction, music and most definitely, the acting! It still has some weak points, but still...

Let's start from the beginning! I love the fact that you can, firstly, hear the voice and feel the attitude of a character, then see him in action- a beautiful way of introducing the men and showing us, as the movie progresses, how they really are. 

All of the shooting scenes and the missions seem real and the best part is that Malick doesn't focuses his attention on the blood or actual fighting, but on the reactions and emotions of the soldiers. They are the core of this movie and it is just a way for us to understand and relate to those who have lived this kind of horror. You can find anything in the middle of the action, from men going crazy to others who indifferently sit next to dying soldiers. The war has transformed them and Malick shows us how through a 170 minute journey into their mind and soul. 

The cast was exceptional and recognizable, even if you don't watch a lot of movies: Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, John Travolta, Adrien Brody, Woody Harelson, John C.Reilly, Jared Leto, John Cussack and others. Nick Nolte, especially, is crazy good as the man in charge of the island, who has to go down into the battlefield to take charge when his captain(Elias Koteas) can't. 

The key character and actor in this, for me, was James Caviezel. There is just something about him: it draws people in, his eyes, his calm and numbness, his raw emotions are wonderfully displayed. He is the heart and soul of the battalion and of this movie. 

One thing I still don't like about the Terence Malick movies is the voice-overs. I understand they are meant to give substance and more meaning to the story and create an atmosphere, but most of the time, for me anyway, it is distracting and I just give up, all together, listening to it and prefer to watch the action on screen! Plus, it can be a little boring to watch for some- 170 minutes!

In the end, it's a story about war, suffering, fear, ignorance and humans; it's a story about young men who go to war with fear, but go out with a calmness and numbness that only war soldiers can understand!

Fantastic movie, I really hope you will see it, if you haven't already!


  1. It really has been TOO long since I have seen this film.

    I remember watching it before I really lit this fire inside me to study and dissect film. I saw it as JUST a war movie. I would love to watch it again now.

    In fatc you have inspired me to put it on my LOVEFiLM list this instant!! Thanks


  2. One of my favourite films. The assault on the bunkers, led by John Cusack, is epic. As is the following scene when they infiltrate the village. Obviously, I love the action scenes, but the clam, quite build-up (images of the soldiers walking through the long grass) is visually stimulating, too. You're spot on about the performances - Nolte, Koteas, Caviezel, Woody Harrelson - are all amazing. It's a personal choice, but I find this more emotionally resonating than Saving Private Ryan. Nice review. Glad you enjoyed it :-)

  3. @Scott: lovely, as always!I'm glad I inspired you to put it on LoveFilm!Hope you enjoy it- sometimes it is good to revisit some movies!For example, I've seen the Godfather trilogy about 10 years ago and I can't remember a thing!I think I will have a marathon with it-maybe next weekend!
    @Andy: Mister Buckle, always nice to have you here! Again, as I told Scott, I saw Private Ryan a long long time ago and I don't remember much- I will put that on my never-ending to see movies list, as well!

  4. Your aversion with the film's use of voiceover was one shared by audiences and critics (and me) when the film was first released. Now, it's one of my favorite aspects of the movie. Malick isn’t concerned by the audience knowing which character is talking. The soldier is talking. As for what is being said, well, that’s just Malick. You’re gonna hear about God, and you’re gonna hear about nature.
    Glad you liked it, the movie only gets better with time.

  5. This film is as close to poetry as film gets. If anyone ever asks me what a poetic film is, I point them to this.

  6. Absolutely masterful film indeed. I remember watching it the first time and thinking it didn't hold a candle to Saving Private Ryan but over the years, it has really grown on me and today, I really think it's a masterpiece.

  7. Just a simply beautiful film that really uses this huge cast to its advantage. Great review Aziza.

  8. @Alex: I understood that Malick was using the voice-overs of soldiers, not specific characters, but I still found myself not really listenting to what they were saying. Still, it is a great movie! You're a big Terence Malick fan, aren't you?Must be happy about the 3 upcoming movies he has.

    @pturner1010: Yeah, it does have a dose of poetry in it!

    @Castor: Thanks for dropping by! I have to re-see Saving Private Ryan...and Braveheart, for that matter!It was a long time ago!

    @Dan: Thanks Dan!

  9. Nice review! I saw this a while ago and though I'm not into war movies, I really like this one. I like the fact that it wasn't all about shootout and explosions but he really got into the psyche of the soldiers.

    I love what you said about James Caviezel, he does have such kind, soulful eyes. My fave role of his is still Passion of the Christ but this is perhaps my second favorite. I heard that Malick liked him so much that he kept adding more scenes of him. He's practically the leading man of this film.

  10. @Ruth: I didn't knew that Malick kept adding scenes, that's good!I have yet to see Passion of Christ, but I've added the title to my never-ending movie list, so I will check it out!Thanks!

  11. I'm one of the seemingly increasing minority of folks who don't like Malick's films - and Thin Red Line is right up there on my list of disappointing cinema experiences.

    Nice review, but you still haven't convinced me to return to watch this "epic".....

  12. I get what you're saying...Tree of Life was dissapointing for me, but Thin Red Line was better!As I said, Terence Malick isn't easy to love!Everyone is untitled to its opinion...too bad I didn't convince you!

  13. Proves you can have a beautiful contemplative visuals without compromising character, pace & narrative. I loathed TREE OF LIFE, and rewatching THIN RED LINE - an infinitely superior film - just a few weeks ago really reinforced that feeling

  14. Yeah I'm a huge Malick fan. Can't wait for all his new stuff.