Worth A Look: 12.39%
Pretty Bad: 12.39%
Total Crap: 18.8%
11 reviews, 168 user ratings
|Thin Red Line, The
by Chris Parry
Who says the age of the auteur is over? The days where a visionary director would pen a script that only he could truly understand, with ideas and images that only he could conjure and the studio be damned, he was making it his way, were rampant in the 70's but haven't been sighted in the 90's. Until now.These days the old auteurs are MIA. Stone is churning out indian filled desert tales, dePalma spends all day doing one steadicam shot, Lucas makes "virtual movies", Speilberg makes documentaries, Scorcese and Coppola turn in tepid middle of the road stuff and Kubrick has gone completely stark, staring, raving, looney, bonkers, in the "I'm a teapot" mode.
"Epic. A little too epic."
So who's left to make the kind of visionary films that the studios and new directors are incapable of? I can only think of two. Terry Gilliam and Roberto Benigni. But somehow, out of the mire came crawling a director who had played possum for twenty years.
Terrence Malick had only made two films, neither of which brought him the acclaim he deserved. He then went and became a hairdresser to pass the time.
And then one day he wrote The Thin Red Line. Only he could make it. Only he would make it. His way. His budget. His cast. No studio involvement.
Somehow, he got his wish and the end result pulls the pin on a grenade and shoves it firmly up Saving Private Ryan's arse.
It's somewhat ironic that it takes another, better war film to show just how shallow Saving Private Ryan was. It's even more ironic that Private ryan will win every Oscar going while this classic will be passed over.
Explaining the tale behind The Thin Red Line would be a futile exercise. Putting it in a few words is like disecting a frog - You might explain how it works but the frog tends to die in the process.
Suffice it to say that The Thin Red Line is not about story, it's about images - and this film is resplendent with some of the mirkiest, ugliest, most beautiful images put on film. To have the audience scared and disgusted while entranced and bewildered is something you can't storyboard. It comes from inside a visionary's brain.
After a slow start, this film takes you on a journey that Speilberg's technical wizardy or Kubrick's mean streak just couldn't deliver. This is a journey through sub-conscious thought. Sometimes it makes no sense, but what in life always makes sense?
There's been three major points of disappointment spoken about this film.
Firstly, that it's hard to figure who is speaking the narration. The response to that is that it's supposed to be. The point is that everyone's sub-conscious is saying the same thing, no matter what front they put up.
The second bitch about The Thin Red Line is that it's too long, and it is. This is a film that wanted to end a lot, and often. And if anything has sabotaged this movie's claims to being a masterpiece of our time, that's the one thing that succeeds. Take a half hour out of this film and you have a surreal experience that will be toasted through the ages... unfortunately, sometimes the auteur indulges in their own ideals. You take the good with the bad.
The third and last complaint is that the film is star heavy. It really is. George Clooney popping up at the end was, to quote Dignan, "a pointless act". John Travolta likewise. The cast were all good, but the continual parade of personalities detracted from the end result.
The accuracy of the film is superb, right down to the two-toed comabt boots on the Japanese soldiers. Unlike Speilberg's half hour of documentary - two hours of flag waving, this film is just like being belted over the head and spending three hours in a "what the fuck is going on" daze.
But, despite the brilliance within, it's just too damn long.Basically, by halfway I had written this review and it was going to say things like "greatest cinematic experience I've had", but by the end, Mr Malick's directorial "friendly fire" had lost me. Do yourself a favour and at the 2 1/2 hour mark, get up and leave. Don't fear that you're missing something, just go. That way you'll be left with a fantastic film memory that will erase Private Ryan and live long.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=734&reviewer=1
originally posted: 03/02/99 11:19:39