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The Thin Red Line (1998) Poster

Goofs

Anachronisms 

In one of the flashback scenes where the soldier and his girlfriend are holding hands, modern cars can be seen out the window in the background.
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When we first see the American patrol boat, a surfboard is lying in the foreground. It's a shortboard, which was introduced in the late 60's.
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Despite the suggestion that the reference to an "Air Force Captain" was not a goof because the "US Army Air Forces" had been renamed (formerly "Air Corps") in 1941, the term "Air Force" was never used in WWII. The character's wife would have said "Air Corps Captain," because that term was used in everyday speech throughout the war.
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A soldier uses a toothbrush with "wear" stripes in the bristles, which were invented in the 1990s.
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There is a modern, fiberglass and foam surfboard on the beach.
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In the village at the beginning, a naval vessel that was clearly built after 1980 is seen in the background.
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Continuity 

During his argument on the phone, Capt. Staros states, "The time, Sir, is 13:21 hours, 25 seconds" when his wrist watch clearly shows a time of 14:32. The watch also shows other times during the conversation.
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When PFC. Doll shoots the Japanese soldiers (who are going on the hill carrying a machine gun), the first shots he fires we see his face. His rifle recoils significantly, but when it shows the scene behind his back, his rifle does not recoil at all.
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When the men are preparing to climb down into the assault craft, there is a shot of Captain Staros thinking to himself. Over his shoulder he carries an M1 carbine which has a mounted bayonet lug (post war feature). When he arrives on the island, suddenly his weapon doesn't have a bayonet lug anymore.
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The length of Welsh's hair on the boat as the alarm sounds and then later the next day.
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Crew or equipment visible 

During the earlier stages of the battle to reach the Japanese stronghold (at about 1:00 into the film), an entire camera crew of about 4 or 5 people, along with their microphones and camera, are fully visible along the left side of the shot.
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When Welsh is talking to the scared young soldier in the shaving quarters at the beginning of the film, the soldier says, "Only two things that are permanent is dying and the Lord," and the camera and the operator's hand are reflected in the far left mirror (visible only in the widescreen release).
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The wake from the camera boat can be seen cutting across the path of the first wave of landing craft as it makes a sweeping turn in front of them.
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During one flash back to the AWOL island home, there are dolly tracks in the sand.
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Before the flanking assault on the Japanese bunker, a wire is visible, and apparently attached to a US soldier/ stuntman, as he is engulfed in a mortar round explosion (apparently to simulate the jerking force of the impact).
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Factual errors 

The ship transporting Charlie Company to Guadalcanal is a Victory Ship, first introduced in 1944, while the film is set in November 1942.

Additionally, the Victory ships were built as Merchant Marine cargo vessels, not troop transports. Navy-operated troop transports would have transported Charlie Company to Guadalcanal.

Merchant Marine vessels would also be manned by that branch, not Navy sailors.
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When transporting such a valuable load as reinforcements to an island, there should have been some Naval vessels escorting the transports.
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Brig. Gen. Quintard says to (Lt.) Colonel Tall: "We've got good sergeants and good lieutenant colonels. But once a man gets those eagles he can't wait to get that star." Since he says that in respect to Talls own behavior and since the eagle is the Insignia of colonels, Tall must be one (unlike how it is written in the credits and also in the book.)
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The landing craft transporting Charlie Company onto the beaches of Guadalcanal all have different numbers following the P letter in front. The number would have been the numerical designation of the transport. This suggests there are multiple transport vessels delivering troops. There is only one ship in view.
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Along with the fact that there are no naval support vessels around the invasion transports, the transports themselves are riding high in the water, meaning they were empty. In real WW2 invasions vessels were loaded heavily with tanks, trucks, landing craft and ammunition and would have sat much deeper in the water.
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Miscellaneous 

When Sgt. Keck accidentally pulls the pin on a grenade. It is hooked to his belt by the safety spoon. The spoon on the grenade flies off as normal. Yet, the grenade does not drop off the belt.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

Capt. Staros's name is wrong. The character is supposed to be Greek and the correct name would be Stavros, which derives from the Greek word for Crucifix. However, the "v" in the correct version of the name is omitted. This could have been changed if and when his family immigrated to the USA from Greece.
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When Private Bell's wife is standing alone outside their house, a man, apparently in modern clothing, can be seen in the background of the scene. In fact, if we look closer, the "modern clothing" is an Air Force Captain uniform... Probably the same captain that Bell's wife met in the letter received by Bell.
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Some have understood the use of the M1 Garand rifle in the film is incorrect, saying that the characters in the film were US Marines, who were armed with M1903 Springfield rifles at the time. The use of the Garand is in fact correct for the film; the film portrays US Army soldiers, not Marines, and they would have been armed with the Garands.
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Revealing mistakes 

The supposedly 'American' patrol boat in the beginning is in fact the Pacific Class HMPNGS Moresby of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force that didn't enter service till 1989. It is pale green, not US gray.
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The M2A1 105mm Howitzers supporting the troops on Guadalcanal do not recoil realistically as they fire. The barrel assembly should have been pushed back; in the film it stays in its nominal position. The gun also jumps off the ground as it fires, which does not happen in real life.
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Towards the end, when they are marching in front of the graveyard, there is a modern sprinkler system operating behind the crosses, watering what appears to be a golf course.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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