peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2011 07 13 TheThinRedLine

The Thin Red Line

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A Malick segue from The Tree of Life, over two nights. Hollywood goes to war, as it was billed at the time. The acting is pretty solid as apparently he put them through hell, so there wasn't much need to actually act. Least convincing are Travolta's fly-in fly-out General and Clooney's ma-and-pa routine at the end.

Malick does not attempt a female character here; Miranda Otto is ethereal, beautiful, and plotwise a vehicle for some faithless brutality that smudges the hard-fought victory of a ridgeline in Guadalcanal in World War II. James Caviezel is beautiful to watch, credible in his Jesus role, which is probably what got him the guernsey in Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (unknown and unseen by me). Sean Penn is solid but uninspired, and Nick Nolte has boots too big to fill as the arsehole Colonel sacrificing men to his career aspirations. (The boots are Robert Duvall's from Apocalypse Now, and there is no surfboard.) The list goes on, but I'll stop here.

The version I saw was fully 2hr 50 min, with awesome cinematography. I like the ambience, especially the opening scenes with the villagers. The Japanese are totally characterless and barely differentiated; the game here isn't to humanize the enemy but to dehumanize the Americans, or at least subject them to some kind of Zen retribution.

I saw this at the cinema back in 1998, I'm sure of it, probably at the Verona. I also saw Saving Private Ryan then too, but remember nothing of it apart from Spielberg's overwhelming opening scene. Maybe worth a revisit.