The Thin Red Line (1998)

July 27, 2008 § Leave a comment

This is certainly among the most amazing films I’ve ever seen. The idea of a poetic Second World War film that also happens to be utterly beautiful at times might seem a little odd. But it’s important to note the battle scenes are not gloriously filmed, just a lot of other moments, which means in a subtle way it asks why on earth we’d ever choose to enter into such chaos.

I’ve never seen a film that’s such a powerful anti-war statement, while at the same time it’s so far from lecturing the viewer. Director Terrence Malick has made very few films compared with many other directors. He also has a very particular directing style, shooting many hours of extra footage and then deciding to use that quick shot of a brilliant toucan, or whatever he chooses — in other words, he gathers a great deal of material and then shapes a film from it, like a sculptor removing whatever he doesn’t want from a block of material.  And while he may have made fewer films than some other directors his age, I think quality counts more than quantity, and his films always make an impression. The Thin Red Line remains my favourite of his, for having an emotional impact and a statement that matches the visuals.


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