Sunday, November 19, 2006
The Thin Red Line ****
“The Thin Red Line” is a film with astounding visuals. It is a film about religion, war, and nature, and the crossroads where their paths meet. It contains the greatest score I have ever heard composed by Hanz Zimmer, and some of the greatest cinematography I’ve ever seen by John Toll. Terrence Malick’s makes incredibly detailed films, which is why it’s a good idea to watch this film many times. Every time you watch it, you pick up a small human detail which may give a historian somewhere an orgasm. The Chinese worker reading the bible in “Days of Heaven” for instance. Or in “The Thin Red Line” a young looking soldier reading a letter from home that is pages long (and they’re double sided!)
The Thin Red Line has an all star cast and perhaps its only flaw is the choice to put John Travolta and George Clooney, among others, in cameo roles that seem distracting. The greatest performance is by Jim Cavizel. We first see him living with another soldier on an island only inhabited by natives. The island is a virtual paradise. We see men casually holding hands, children playing on the beach and swimming deep in the perfect blue water. We see Private Witt (Cavizel) talking to a woman with a baby. He asks if she’s afraid of him. She says yes. “Why?” he asks. She tells him he “looks soldier.” And we see a sad glint in Cavizel’s eyes. Although he is living in paradise, he has lost something he can not take back.
An army boat arrives and it becomes clear that Witt and the other soldier are deserters in WWII. Sean Penn, after capturing them, tells Witt instead of being court-martialed he will become a stretcher bearer for Charlie Company, which is landing at Guadacanal. And the journey to mankind and nature’s thin red line between sanity and insanity begins.