The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red Line ★★★★½

Where is God in times of war? Why does he allow these things to happen? Are we not but ash, destined to an eternity of strife and conflict? Where can the beauty be found in times of destruction? What is a man?

Hard to believe Malick made a poetic war film. And a studio film of all things too. But a poetic war film he did indeed make, and a really good one at that. 

All the signature trappings of a Malick film, no narrative structure, whispered voiceover narration, tons of shots of grass swaying in the wind, exceedingly gorgeous cinematography, nature porn, gliding camera movements, and lots of pontification on God and nature. It’s all there. But when you add to that some exceptionally compelling battle sequences and Hans Zimmer’s score, well then you’ve got something pretty special. 

I really liked the lack of any sort of lead. With a cast as positively massive as this one, it’s pretty refreshing to see a more ensemble approach. Plus, just the cast alone is absolutely insane! It’s a shame so many more were left on the cutting room floor, but in any case, this movie has arguably one of the best male casts ever assembled. 

The sound mixing and editing are superb as well. The sound of guns firing and the bustle of the jungle are all crisp. 

Since most of Malick’s films possess a more relaxed paced, naturally there are going to be decent stretches of lull within the film. It got to me a bit towards the end and I actually fell asleep for a few minutes. But in a good sense not because I didn’t care about the film or anything like that. 

Love him or hate him, Malick is a unique director. I personally love his style, and was really surprised to see how well he was able to handle the tension and chaos of the many gunfights in the film. It’s always nice to see a director step out of their comfort zone and create something different. Plus, this being Malick’s first film in twenty years following Days of Heaven, that’s pretty impressive. 

Required viewing for any Malick fan.