cannot make up for a thin dramatic line. That's the crux of the
problem for The Thin Red Line, director Terrence Malick's
long awaited come-back film. The dramatic line wavers and disappears
into the mist of overblown poetry. Malick undermines the power of battle with
arty, confused storytelling. Half the time, I couldn’t follow what was happening when and whether it was
real or not.
Tall barks out orders. ©Fox
Following a battle weary troop in the heat of battle is a time
honored war movie convention. Under the strain of unremitting
battle, strong men crack. By focusing on individuals, the mental
explosions can often overpower the barrage of bullets and bombs.
Some characters crack, some rise to the situation. The Thin
Red Line follows this simple war line, but twists and turns
it into an unrecognizable pattern. Many elements of the script
do not ring true, and this is of the utmost importance when
capturing an audience in a film rife with realism.
Set on Guadalcanal as US forces
are trying to turn the tide of the war, The Thin Red
Line is one ambling and bloody walk up the hill of battle.
An all-star cast cannot inject any excitement into what should
have been a stirring war epic.
Casting James Caviezel
and Ben Chaplin in two main roles appears as a major mistake to
me. The actors look so much alike, it makes the confused
storytelling even more difficult to follow. I can only think
that Malick made a very conscious choice to do this, almost
making the two soldiers different aspects of the same
characters. More confusion for me even as I write. Colonel Tall,
appears to belong more to the tradition of Apocalypse Now than
to any heritage of the World War II film. Nolte’s raving
performance seems far too over the top
in the cast are solid, but are given little room to shine. Sean
Penn, John Cusack, George Clooney, and Elias Koteas, all do fine
The cinematography of John Toll is
superb. Yes, visually, The Thin Red Line delivers all you
could want and then some. The score by Hans Zimmer is powerful,
but Malick's direction is far too languid. It's almost as if
he's been transfixed by the film battle and suffers from film
The DVD is quite beautiful. It does
justice to the magnificent visualizations of Malick. Depth of
image is remarkable and color vitality stunning. The Thin Red
Line is a consistently sharp DVD, with no gnawing artifacts
to stand in the way of enjoying the great images. The Dolby
Digital 5:1 surround is aggressive and accurate locates mortar
and bullet. The exquisite recording of the Melanisian Songs on
the soundtrack is offered as a bonus feature as well. The air
surrounding the voices is ethereal.
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