Posted on 10/09/12 02:26 PM
I saw this film some years ago and didn't like it too much back then. Now I decided to revisit it to see whether I was wrong and just didn't understand it or because it's a crappy movie.
What struck me first was the mindblowing cinematography I somehow didn't notice the last time. It comes with one of the most realistic depictions of military life and strategy and a fantastic score by Hans Zimmer (and I don't place much value on classic piano/orchestra score usually, most of them are good if they're working in the subconscious but Zimmer somehow achieved to elevate all the incredible visuals to a new level with his music - I guess that's how film scores should be).
Although I preferred the pictures of the untouched jungle and men crouching through grass Malick shows much of the cruelty of combat and he does it in a very honest way (but that's nothing new, others did that before and after - even better).
Malick also gathered an intriguing cast that did a good job (especially Nolte and Koteas) despite the lack of dialogue in the film. The whole story is carried by various voice-over monologues by the different characters (which may not be everyone's taste).
Speaking of characters - the film simply has too many of them and it's quite confusing if they're looking so similar like some of the main actors do (I actually didn't notice that Cusack and Chaplin were two different people until over an hour). You can't genuinely care about or even remember all of them which is a pity if a film focuses on personal drama like The Thin Red Line does.
What's more to say - it's preposterous like all of Malick's films - he always tries to put some philosophy and questions of meaning into his films when he better just should have done a great war epic. The cruelty of war and the whole psychology that goes with it is a big enough theme for a film - you don't need to project all these questions about life where they just not belong.
After all, it's another point in favor of Tree of Life and it's getting more and more likely that I'll see it some time in the near future. The Thin Red Line is certainly not one of my favourite films, but it's better than Saving Private Ryan (to whom it's often compared) and has one of the greatest if not the very greatest cinematography in any war film (the 2001 of war films so to say).