The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red Line ★★★★

Reflective storytelling at its most reserved and languidly orchestrated, finalising in a film that’s equal parts horror and silently rendered aesthetic splendour, the winds of the Guadalcanal hills louder than the surges of sporadic gunfire. In all honesty, I was expecting this to be an all-timer, and my hopes couldn’t have been higher, but, ultimately, it’s Zimmer’s sentimentality that has a tendency to overthrow it. At times, it almost felt like I was watching a Nolan movie, but I suppose that’s partly on me for seeing it so long after he’d taken a page out of Malick’s book. The cast are expectedly mesmerising and help carry it all along, with so many recognisable faces, even if they do struggle for breath amidst the scope of the ambitious ensemble structure. Luckily, Malick’s summoning of nature saves it from its own pretentiousness, his trademark inclusion of the world’s respective ecosystem defining its organic pull, proving that even if you’re graced with the greatest cast known to man, they’re merely people, and they can still be outweighed in the face of planet Earth’s wonders. It’s really a miracle that after a twenty-year sabbatical he came back and made something like this, but it’s still a step down from Days of Heaven. This was known to be one of Roger Ebert’s hot-takes (with which I tend to disagree with), and yet, similarly to my experience, he liked the film but wasn’t in love with it, making it one of those rare cases in which he was right, and everybody else who exists is wrong.

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