The Thin Red Line

Alternate Title: War Poetry
1998 Nominee

It’s definitely a movie. Although it did receive good reviews, I found this one to be a big yawn. First, it doesn’t bode well that the film is almost three hours long; sure, I like a long movie now and then, but it had better be entertaining if it’s going to drag like that. Second, it’s based on a book that is probably written the way the voiceovers are written for the movie. This is one of the books that could have just stayed a book.

The film details The Battle of Guadalcanal and the soldiers fighting it. Each soldier’s psyche is examined through voiceover and each soldier seems unwilling to be part of the war at all. This is all interspersed with some breathtaking shots of nature – a trademark of a Terrence Malick movie.

There are plenty of moments where you might go, “Hey, that’s that guy from that other movie.” To be fair, The Thin Red Line features some actors that are more well-known now than they were when the film was released. This was before Adrien Brody won an Oscar; before George Clooney started really showing up everywhere; and before Jim Caviezel played Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, it’s a bit of a letdown to see actors you love like Woody Harrelson, John Cusack, and even Nick Nolte (sometimes) play roles where they barely get any screen time. It’s also distracting. You want to see more of them, but they’re gone as soon as they appear.
Certainly, The Thin Red Line acts as a profound anti-war piece, but I won’t be suggesting it as a choice when I have friends over to watch a movie. I don’t like poetry all that much to begin with; even in movie form, poems are not my thing.

Now it’s Your Turn…
The Thin Red Line was nominated for Best Picture in 1998, but did the Academy get it right?

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