The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red Line

The more I read about Terrence Malick as a person, the more enamored I become with his work. The Thin Red Line came about after a 20 year hiatus from filmmaking, of which no one knows the reasons why. If this masterpiece is what 20 years of thinking about life and love both lived and lost gets you, then it was worth that much time. 

Not since I had my Tarkovsky marathon have I seen such a skillful melding of memories into a narrative.  This was easily my favorite film of Malick’s I’ve watched so far. While it may run long, (with enough walking to make Lord of the Rings jealous) the core philosophy of the movie kept me engaged. Malick is able to show the beauty in people and nature, even in one of the darkest environments: war. 

The transitions between the memories and the tropical island mission were seamless. The shifting narration threw me off somewhat with who was speaking, but I actually enjoyed the deep observations on life on top of the brutal war visuals. I’m going to need an audiobook of Nick Nolte talking about war and death to play on repeat.

Hans Zimmer’s score here clearly influenced Thomas Newman’s work on 1917. The slow ticking in the background of even the calmest scenes kept me alert that more horrors were on their way. 

The Thin Red Line holds a unique place in the echelon of great WW2 movies. It has the same brutality and action of many of the more popular films, but seems to be more about war’s relationship with nature than any of the others. It’s a wholly original take on combat that only Terrence Malick could achieve. 

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