Reviewed by: Todd Adams
Starring: Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, Ben Chaplin, James Caviezel, George Clooney, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas, Jared Leto, Dash Mihok, Tim Blake Nelson, Nick Nolte, John C. Reilly, Larry Romano, John Savage / Director: Terrence Malick
“The Thin Red Line,” being released so close to “Saving Private Ryan”, is destined to be called “that other war movie.” This is unfortunate. For, “The Thin Red Line” is not just another brutal war movie. It is also a visual and thematic masterpiece. In any other year, “The Thin Red Line” would probably be a highlight, rather than being dubbed as an imitation.
For sure, “The Thin Red Line” is disturbing to watch. It is true to the horror of war. Though not as graphic as other notable war films, the directing seems to produce a very suspenseful and uncomfortable connection to the battles at hand. Thus, be warned that parts of this movie can be very hard to watch, and are certainly not for everyone. The violence at least is not an end in itself, and serves to illustrate the sacrifice and madness young men endured in WWII to fight for our freedom. In these respects, “The Thin Red Line” is similar to “Saving Private Ryan”. One might well ask why watch two such gruesome features in one year?
With that disclaimer made, I can say that “The Thin Red Line” was both stunning to watch and deeply moving to experience. The visuals are absolutely amazing, and this is truly a film for the big screen. “The Thin Red Line” also flows along like the beautiful pacific island scenery it captures. From soldier to soldier, the mens thoughts are heard as poetry and visuals to their pre-war life and longings. This film takes you inside the men who are fighting. Two main characters reveal profound states of mind in the midst of their hell, and both refuse to harden their hearts. One man focuses on remaining changeless as he continuously dreams about his wife. The other keeps a spark in his eye, shining from within inspite of darkness all around. As a christian, I found this character portrayal to be very inspiring. In fact, the director occasional alludes to heaven and God in a commendable manner both through the words of the soldiers and the photographic style.
If you are willing to stomach more of the brutal war material that “Saving Private Ryan” portrays, I can strongly recommend “The Thin Red Line”. Beyond the superbly directed yet disturbing war scenes, “The Thin Red Line” is beautiful to watch, and flows deeply into profound areas of faith, life and death.