|"Darkness and light. Strife and love. Are they the workings of one mind?"-Pvt. Train|
The Thin Red Line (Terrance Malick,1998) was nothing like I expected. And that is one of the things I liked about this film. I find it amazing that having seen so many war films (I took a class last year called "Cinema at War"), that each film can bring something new to the experience of war.
The new element that Malick brings to the genre of war is a sense of humanity and hope. So many war films aestheticize violence; they make the spectacle of war into something to behold. This film did not do that. War was seen as something gritty and depressing, it takes the life from men. The beauty came from the nature that existed outside of the war. Through this juxtaposition, Malick was able to create a film that asks central questions about war and life itself. How can something so devastating happen in a place so beautiful? How can we as human beings commit such atrocities against our fellow men? It is these probing questions, not the action that really makes the film.
There is a definite style that defines the film. There is this beautiful, slow pace that allows plenty of room for contemplation. At some times the pace did seem almost too slow, but for the most part the film was not about the pacing or its relationship to war. It was about the characters and their individual experiences and how that defined their war.
I really loved the element of the voice over narration especially the fact that we got to hear from more than one character. It provided insight into what characters were thinking, which often times contrasted with what they were saying. These prose like narrations propose some of the film's central themes and just sound beautiful. Lines such as " Does our ruin benefit the earth? Does it help the grass to grow, the sun to shine? Is this darkness in you, too? Have you passed to this night?"are pure poetry. It was a heightened film experience with lines that sounded like they could have come straight out of a Whitman poem.
Overall I really liked this film. It was different and had this feel to it that was all Malick. It made me really excited for Tree of Life this summer and more Malick films.