The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red Line ★★★★

The Thin Red Line is a movie with a war, but it's hard to say if it's really a movie about war. This subgenre is usually populated by films pointing out war's atrocities, and the effects it has on the people involved. And while that certainly is the case here as well, Malick's style makes this feel almost greater than just that.

"Maybe all men got one big soul everybody's a part of, all faces are the same man."

To be clear, I don't think that's necessarily better or worse. Some of my favorite war movies are very much about how "war is hell" as I've got a penchant for the grim and harrowing side of cinema. So here it almost feels like an entirely different kind of movie, as the focus is much more on the beautiful and sublime. Flora and fauna are the highlights here, as shots of them are blended into scenes of human conflict. Soldiers weave through thick grass and disappear when they kneel, and it really makes you feel like nature's always right by.

And combined with the narration that guides us along, the movie feels more like it questions nature itself. Is it human nature to fight with each other? Animals kill all the time so perhaps we're the same. The combat is dramatic and visually-arresting as well, but you could also say the same about everything else; my favorite moments ended up being the respite from this hell, as characters entered a liminal state of transcendence.

"We. We together. One being. Flow together like water. Till I can't tell you from me. I drink you. Now. Now."

As it's only my second Terrence Malick feature film, I'm definitely going to revisit this in the future; it feels surprisingly hard to grasp, like it's constantly floating away. And that's probably because it's less a war film than it is a Malick one – that which questions the nature of man and his place. Regardless of how you feel about this ephemeral perspective, it's undeniable how alluring, how utterly sublime The Thin Red Line is, and I don't think I'll ever see a more beautiful war film.

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