7.6/10
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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
1,366 ( 381)
Nominated for 7 Oscars. Another 20 wins & 40 nominations. See more awards »

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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 cost. What happens next is a story developing about redemption and the meaningless of war. Regardless the outcome. Written by Frank Liesenborgs

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

Billy Bob Thornton recorded a narration for the two hour and fifty minute epic under the supervision of writer and director Terrence Malick. However, the final print of the film has voice-overs by eight of the main characters in the film; none of the narration from Thornton is in the final print. In addition, several other stars who filmed scenes were left on the cutting room floor, including Bill Pullman, Gary Oldman, Lukas Haas, Viggo Mortensen, Martin Sheen, Jason Patric, and Mickey Rourke. See more »

Goofs

When transporting such a valuable load as reinforcements to an island, there should have been some Naval vessels escorting the transports. 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?
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in The Thin Blue Lie (2000) 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
See more »

User Reviews

 
Malick's Heavenly War
4 March 2000 | by pmovSee all my reviews

This film is unlikely to be appreciated by audiences reared upon a diet of dumbed-down Hollywood action fare. However, if you're prepared to sit down and watch THE THIN RED LINE with no interruptions and give it the attention it deserves, you'll be rewarded with one of the most intelligent, poetic and stunningly beautiful films you're ever likely to see.

Director Terrence Malick's films are alive with a sense of pure cinema with every frame delivering such detail and richness that you could swear you were there. The only other person capable of bringing such an immediate sense of time and place and sheer nuance of film (although in a completely different way) is David Lean, another major league craftsman.

Here, again, Malick uses his customary voice-over device although this time as a means of vocalising the abstract thoughts of the various soldiers as they struggle to make some sense of the conflict. It's an interesting approach which allows the audience to identify with the characters in a far less superficial way than in, say, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (the film THE THIN RED LINE is most often and most unfairly compared to). Malick is also not afraid to take time to illustrate the continuing natural backdrop to the carnage. Mother Nature almost seems to be occupying a pivotal supporting role as a detached observer on the sidelines, calmly and inscrutably watching the chaos develop.

It's a measure of Malick's complete disinterest with the normal conventions of Hollywood that actors such as Lucas Haas, Vigo Mortensen, Jason Patric, Mickey Rourke, Martin Sheen and Billy Bob Thornton all spent months in Queensland Australia and the Solomon Islands filming roles that ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor. Blink and you'll also miss major marquee players such as John Travolta and George Clooney. The stand-out performances come from Jim Caviezel and, especially, Nick Nolte.

Nolte just seems to be getting better and better as he gets older and his portrayal of tyrant Colonel Tall is something to see. I have never seen anyone express such an impotent sense of rage, anger and fury than Nolte does here. It's a fantastic performance from a real pro and it's a mystery to me why he didn't get an Oscar.

John Toll's pristine cinematography and Hans Zimmer's wonderfully evocative (Oscar-winning) score are other strong elements. The unusual music and visuals contrast so well that Malick sometimes fades out the noise of the shouting, explosions and guns, an effect that only serves to heighten the emotional power of the experience further.

You won't see a more beautiful film about the horrors of war. Movies like this make the task of trawling through the weekly diet of dumb formulaic junk served up by Hollywood almost seem worthwhile.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

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:

$98,126,565
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (rough cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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