The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red Line ★★★★★

Terence Malick's addition to the filmography of the Battle of Guadalcanal, which began in August of 1942 and lasted until February of 1943. The only other film I'd seen that I remember as of now was Guadalcanal Diary by Lewis Seiler, and that was eons ago. What stuck in my memory from Diary was that it seemed as if the battle took place in a dark jungle and in black and white. Malick sets it on hillsides covered in what looks like sawgrass five or six feet tall and under a blue sky. Totally rearranged the narrative in my memory in doing so. There's a noticeable focus on nature as a setting in which the battle unfolds. It also has a distinct meditative aspect by examining memories of the characters portraying the soldiers. I guess one could wonder about the purpose of the flashbacks, perhaps they're there to provide some contrast that broadens the war experience to the woman left behind on the home front. It's like war is here and peace is there but each place has a subtle influence on the other. The task to take the grass-covered hill at the top of which await well dug-in Japanese soldiers leads to utter chaos as the men eventually come within shooting range. Malick let the memories bleed into the crazy combat scenes creating a mind blowing war film. He makes the into one impossible decision after another. This might be one of the last of the anti-war war films as it seems Hollywood started going super-hero on us big time around this time and that trend seems to be continuing. It has its place along with Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Stone's Platoon, De Palma's Casualties of War, and Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket as well as other thoughtful films (Fury probably fits in there) as portrayals whose intent is not necessarily to make you want to go and grab a gun.

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