Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Thin Red Line

Reclusive and seldom active writer/director/philosopher Terrence Malick used his expansive sensibilities to bring James Jones' once before filmed novel to the screen. Set during the Battle of Guadalcanal, The Thin Red Line is a philosophical polemic about the conflict, beautifully shot over vast expanses, focusing in on several soldiers in a platoon. We meet a young deserter (Jim Caviezel), a reflective pacifist who seems content with the island people but would honroably give his life for country. There is also a gruff sergeant (Sean Penn), who has a rough outer shell but still has some humanity left inside him. Then there is a captain (Elias Koteas) who refuses to sacrifice his men's lives for minimal gain as the behest of a lieutenant colonel (Nick Nolte) who is in his last years in the service and is only interested in career advancement. Then there is another private (Ben Chaplin) who's memories of his wife back home keep him going during his arduous service. Malick is a director who only thinks on a large scale, and The Thin Red Line is a measured, but always captivating and beautiful. It doesn't seek to make grand statements on war or offer pulse pounding battle sequences. It wants to introduce you to its characters, get taken away by its visuals, and reflect on your own, all goals which it achieves completely. I don't believe it to be a perfect film, but when a movie can create feelings in you so profound through acting so great and visuals so beautiful, how can this be anything less than four stars.