7.6/10
172,546
1,519 user 178 critic

The Thin Red Line (1998)

R | | Drama, War | 15 January 1999 (USA)
Trailer
2:47 | Trailer
Adaptation of James Jones' autobiographical 1962 novel, focusing on the conflict at Guadalcanal during the second World War.

Director:

Terrence Malick

Writers:

James Jones (novel), Terrence Malick (screenplay)
Popularity
1,055 ( 118)
Nominated for 7 Oscars. Another 21 wins & 40 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kirk Acevedo ... Pvt. Tella
Penelope Allen ... Witt's Mother (as Penny Allen)
Benjamin Green Benjamin Green ... Melanesian Villager (as Benjamin)
Simon Billig ... Lt. Col. Billig
Mark Boone Junior ... Pvt. Peale
Adrien Brody ... Cpl. Fife
Norman Patrick Brown Norman Patrick Brown ... Pvt. Henry
Jim Caviezel ... Pvt. Witt
Ben Chaplin ... Pvt. Bell
George Clooney ... Capt. Bosche
John Cusack ... Capt. John Gaff
Jarrod Dean Jarrod Dean ... Cpl. Thorne
Matt Doran ... Pvt. Coombs
Travis Fine ... Pvt. Weld
Paul Gleeson ... 1st Lt. Band
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Storyline

U.S. Army Private Witt (AWOL) is found and imprisoned on a troop carrier by his company First Sergeant, Welsh.The men of C Company,1st Battalion,27th Infantry Regiment,25th Infantry Division have been brought to Guadalcanal as reinforcements in the campaign to secure Henderson Field and seize the island from the Japanese. They arrive near Hill 210, a key Japanese position. Their task is to capture the hill at all costs. What happens next is a story of redemption and the meaninglessness of war. Regardless of the outcome. Written by Frank Liesenborgs / Hans Delbruck

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Every man fights his own war.

Genres:

Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for realistic war violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

The length of Welsh's hair on the boat as the alarm sounds and then later the next day. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Private Edward P. Train: What's this war in the heart of nature? Why does nature vie with itself? The land contend with the sea? Is there an avenging power in nature? Not one power, but two?
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Crazy Credits

Composer Wrangler. . . Moanike'ala Nakamoto See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Bill Murray/Lucinda Williams (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

The Unanswered Question
Composed by Charles Ives
Performed by Orchestra of St. Luke's (as The Orchestra of St. Luke's)
Conducted by John Adams
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User Reviews

every man fights his own war...
17 May 2000 | by newonplutoSee all my reviews

what many people do not know is that this film, directed by terence malick, is without question the reason that Shakespeare in Love won the best picture oscar over the much favored Saving Private Ryan. why am i saying this? first let's deal with the movie. long? yes. too much? sometimes. but is it good? i can not begin to describe the beauty of this film.

about the oscars, i only watched the film after its surprise nomination for best picture. i had seen the competition already, and it was time to check out the fifth nominee. i went to the theatre myself, and came out three hours later, went home, and i cried. not only because i was disturbed, but i loved every single character in the film. i wanted to be there for them, cry with them, fight their battle. many people who have watched the film have said the same thing to me.

the Thin Red Line is sometimes painful to watch, but only because of its realistic juxtaposition of humanity, philosophy, and the terror of war. the film does not delve into any historical fact about Guadalcanal, except that the battle itself was terrifying (as is any battle). the characters introduce themselves through voice-over narration, which accompanies much of the action. and speaking of action, there is not much in the film. more images. images of war and the lives these soldiers left behind. this was Terence Malick's intent, of course, and many people were insulted and thought it was his own pretentious self getting the best of him. "boy he's a genius.. must he show it??" sometimes it is a little pretentious, but the film would've been "just another WWII film" if it was out of Malick's hands.

i can not understand why Sean Penn is billed as the top actor or the main character of this film. he was there a lot, but the film is carried by Jim Caviezel as the beautiful and ethereal private Witt. words can not describe this performance. with as few lines as he had, Caviezel portrays the symbolic soul of Witt, and by the end of the film he will break your heart. also excellent performances from Nick Nolte and the understated Elias Koteas, who can stretch creepy (Crash) to sympathetic in the blink of an eye.

now.. let's consider hollywood. sure they love Spielberg, and sure Private Ryan was a masterpiece (and it really was), but nobody even expected the Thin Red Line to get seven oscar nods, especially for best picture. but Shakespeare in Love was the crowd pleaser, and the other two were epic war films. most hollywood "artsy" people are anti-war.. kind of like the Thin Red Line. Private Ryan seemed to be MUCH more patriotic "pro-america" than the other. so if we've got anti-war on one side, and patriotism on the other... open and shut. the votes were split between the two, and Shakespeare emerged victorious. too bad.

anyway... the Thin Red Line was definitely better than Shakespeare, and definitely a completely different film from Spielberg's. John Toll's cinematography and Hans Zimmer's score work together to convey the tone of Malick's lyrical and poetic direction, and both should have won oscars. this film is nothing short of breath-taking, though understandably not for the average american moviegoer.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA | Australia

Language:

English | Tok Pisin | Japanese | Greek

Release Date:

15 January 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Thin Red Line See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$52,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$282,534, 27 December 1998

Gross USA:

$36,400,491

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$97,877,498
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (rough cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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