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Overall Rating
3.62

Awesome49.57%
Worth A Look: 12.39%
Average: 6.84%
Pretty Bad: 12.39%
Total Crap: 18.8%

11 reviews, 168 user ratings


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Thin Red Line, The
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by Chris Parry

"Epic. A little too epic."
5 stars

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.

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 https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=734&reviewer=1
originally posted: 03/02/99 11:19:39
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell good but not 4 everyone 4 stars
6/10/15 stanley welles a dazzling and beautiful war movie 5 stars
3/14/14 PAUL SHORTT FASCINATING, WELL MADE, MEDITATIVE ANTI-WAR DRAMA 4 stars
3/01/14 Tardkiller TM owes me 3 hours and 8 bucks. More narrative to be found in most grade school dioramas. 1 stars
11/14/13 mr.mike Liked it more the second time. 4 stars
8/25/13 Fire With Fire Pretentious,trippy,grossly inaccurate insult to those who fought and died at Guadalcanal 1 stars
4/11/11 Bronson Fastfowarding the home scenes worked for me 5 stars
11/09/10 Bob Hey Paulapalooza, Joe Ticket is right. Opinions can't be wrong. 3 stars
12/25/09 Jeff Wilder Less a war film than an existentialist parable. 4 stars
12/01/09 Silkworm Big actors names - Very Slow Dull Film 2 stars
5/29/07 outdoorbob another fantasy of war as any combat vet will tell you, see SPR instead. 2 stars
12/15/06 MP Bartley Lush and absorbing, but everything after the taking of the hill feels redundant.It's no SPR 4 stars
8/12/06 Jimbob Simply Stunning, best movie Ever 5 stars
8/10/06 Greg Fantastic,my favourite film ever,powerful and moving 5 stars
12/27/05 whitfield comparing TTRL to cookiecuttercrap like Saving Ryan's Privates insultsanyone with filmsense 5 stars
10/27/05 noops a boring war film 2 stars
10/26/05 roy holt best war film ever made 5 stars
8/30/05 ES Swims in a sea of pretentiousness, trying to relate WWII to vietnam all at a snail's pace 1 stars
7/02/05 sweetgrrl1972 Really. Really. Boring. 1 stars
4/12/05 darren deeply emotional. great score. ridiculous "cameos" 4 stars
3/27/05 indrid cold Blown away by Saving Private Ryan, but more reflective and poetic. 4 stars
3/09/05 Uncle Phucker Best Word War II film ever. Cannot wait for The New World. 5 stars
11/12/04 jellica it was very sad but i did not cry 5 stars
9/13/04 sam bonner 2 good scenes, otherwise one of the worst war movies ever 1 stars
9/04/04 jeff i found it slow and boring, "saving private ryan" wanna be. sucked 2 stars
7/10/04 Daveman Beautiful but too long and weak on plot and character development. 4 stars
7/02/04 Mike Lacking a good plot but best. cinemetography. ever. 5 stars
5/05/04 Todd Restler The most visually impressive movie I've ever seen 5 stars
3/12/04 lili its cool 5 stars
2/21/04 Denise Duspiva No emotion 1 stars
1/27/04 Chloe Brody Adrien...Sean, what more could you ask for?! 5 stars
12/27/03 J One the best war dramas ever since I seen Platoon! **** out of 4 5 stars
11/25/03 homer J. Simpson an artistic master piece 5 stars
10/17/03 Jon read the book 5 stars
9/28/03 MGuettler exceptional film and the book is even better 5 stars
6/18/03 magus this film changed my life 5 stars
4/26/03 z the best i have seen in years 5 stars
2/27/03 jim nice review, i give the reviewer a 5 too. 5 stars
1/26/03 Jack Sommersby Superior to the cliche-filled "Saving Private Ryan". 4 stars
1/22/03 Pinkline Jones zzzz yet another one-sided War Movie 2 stars
1/07/03 Vince it's ok. Nick Nolte is shit in my opinion though. 3 stars
11/08/02 Charles Tatum Better than "Saving Ryan's Privates" 5 stars
5/24/02 Piz trades intellect and feelings for pure blood and guts, well put together 4 stars
5/17/02 viking a war film to please pseudo intellectuals and drive every else nuts !!! 3 stars
4/18/02 natasha the acting is incomparable, the artistry is beyond mere words 5 stars
4/17/02 Sam Blows old war cliches out of the water bringing a fresh approach. 5 stars
4/08/02 CAT Saving Private Ryan is better, this movie had bad pacing and lacked in areas 3 stars
2/27/02 Shrike You need a brain to appreciate the philosophy, and to think the original cut was 5 hours 5 stars
1/15/02 Murray Castles God what a mess. Read the book and watch SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. 2 stars
1/08/02 Andrew Carden Beautifully Done With Realistic War Scenes. 5 stars
10/02/01 Zatoichi Jones Thinking man's Saving Private Ryan 5 stars
9/10/01 Ricky War! Huh! What is it good for? 5 stars
7/21/01 Matthew Bartley Hmm, grass...more grass...hey, yet more grass! 3 stars
5/28/01 cinkcool SO LONG AND SOOOOOOO BORING 1 stars
5/22/01 Kendra Moore The movie was just a little confusing, but I still liked it because Jim Caviezel is in it. 4 stars
5/04/01 ChiefAlDog Beautiful psychological examination. Shows how doubt/fear arose even in our patriotic war. 5 stars
3/27/01 Ichabod Crane TEEN MOVIE CRITIC II IS A STUPID FUCKING COCKSUCKER. A RIP OFF?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/20/01 Sudeep One helluva movie...beats saving private ryan hands down ,any day of the year. 5 stars
3/07/01 Mike Much better than Saving pr, this is art, not hollywood 5 stars
2/25/01 Steve in Prague RIP OFF OF PRIVATE RYAN?!?!??! TEEN MOVIE CRITIC II IS A FUCKING IDIOT!! STUPID BITCH 5 stars
2/13/01 swapneel the best philosophical war movie since platoon 5 stars
11/22/00 Pionek Wieczysty More slick & "Hollywood" (i.e., Stedicam shots) than SPRyan...but good. 5 stars
11/03/00 Cristopher Revilla Ryan is war movie, thin red line is humanitarian move, you fucking assholes!!!! 5 stars
10/26/00 Colonel Carter not good 1 stars
10/22/00 Gremlin Action scenes are cool. The movie has too many slow gay parts though. 4 stars
10/21/00 Rick Dyspeptic Ted Danson in'.Ryan'? Urgh.Give me Woody Harrelson chirping"I blew my butt off!" 5 stars
8/10/00 Terrie Smith Fairly interesting film; too many characters involved but the battles scenes were well done 4 stars
8/04/00 Viking Makes "A Zed and two Noughts" look as fast paced as "Speed" 3 stars
6/27/00 Purple Monster At least "Private Ryan" seemed authentic !!!! 3 stars
6/21/00 Tojo I laughed, I cried, I wish I died... 1 stars
6/19/00 Greyjack Possibly my favorite film ever. As with most great art, you'll either love or hate it. 5 stars
6/13/00 DAVID Movie had a few nail biting moments but drags at times with stuff we dont wanna see!!!!!!! 3 stars
5/18/00 Zatoichi Jones The thinking man's Private Ryan 4 stars
5/08/00 kristm@msn.com If you think it sucks, you're missing the point 5 stars
5/04/00 P.Rodriguez I was doing my Info Tech project formulas in my head while watching this Shit. 1 stars
4/01/00 Arnaldo Cruz powerful and at the same time,beautiful scrip,super than private Ryan 5 stars
2/15/00 Hunley Needed a really good editor to cut another hour out of it to be really good. 3 stars
2/04/00 Matthew Bartley Just fucking end!!! Said absolutely nothing about war 2 stars
1/27/00 PervertedPixie Poetic and visually sublime. Not as focused as Private Ryan but alot more heart felt. 5 stars
1/19/00 k.tomkowski Directorial masterpiece and beautiful photography. The script could be better. 4 stars
1/07/00 Murray Castles The most disappointing film I have ever seen. Malick is no Spielberg. 1 stars
1/07/00 JussMatt I felt like a POW being tortured watching this. Too long, Too Shitty, Somebody Shoot Me!!! 1 stars
11/19/99 bishopj@pumpkinsfan.com Not a Spielberg fan, but Saving Pri. Ryan was better. Still good though. 4 stars
11/09/99 C.A.T.M. Did I mention this film is Fucking Awesome? 5 stars
10/27/99 Pat Lawlor Makes Saving Private Ryan looks like Disney 5 stars
10/27/99 Ralf Behet Brilliantly filmed, but unfocused and pretentious. Still worthwhile 4 stars
10/27/99 Keiros Hamburger Hill with a lot of Calvin Klein adds 2 stars
9/06/99 Weird Andy Simultaneously meditative and terrifying. 5 stars
8/19/99 KK Talk about a black hole. What an insult to veterans of the Pacific Theatre. 1 stars
8/01/99 Obi Wan I've Been Fucking Robbed!!!! Movied sucked Roseanne's Ass!!! 1 stars
7/30/99 Matthew Bartley Wow grass!!Lots of it!!...and thats it really 2 stars
7/30/99 4ever Surpassed SPR in its depth, cinematography, music, and thought 5 stars
7/24/99 Bozo The longest; the most boring; God it was agony 1 stars
7/24/99 Hagbard Celine Guess I just didn't get the Zen voice-overs. Got tired of looking at shots of tall grass. 3 stars
7/21/99 Tristynn umm.. I guess I missed something.Boring...SPR kicked this movies ASS!!! and some... 2 stars
7/06/99 Angie very strange movie....not what i thought it would be...the scenes were beautiful. 3 stars
7/04/99 J-Dogg OVERLONG and boring, but it's poetry is what grasped me. 3 stars
6/19/99 Jude Best movie of the year, better than Saving Private Ryan. The OST is moving and make me cry 5 stars
4/24/99 gibb slick movie 5 stars
4/20/99 bb It was okay if you just want to kill time 3 stars
4/10/99 Keith Calder Beautifully shot. Everything else sucked. Pretentious without any real depth. 1 stars
4/04/99 Albert Snoooooooze. Go back in hiding, Malick. We'll just watch Badlands. 1 stars
4/03/99 Lily Wow, I really wish my grandfather was alive. questions... 5 stars
3/23/99 Matthew Bartley Dull,overlong and pretentious 2 stars
3/22/99 Ah Dooey Hey Katie, ypu're right. 5 stars
3/09/99 Katie Completely overrated! 1 stars
3/09/99 Karen This movie spent the whole time patting itself on the back. SUCKS!!!! 1 stars
3/09/99 Cathy & Kevin Way too long. No Plot. Boring. Got caught up on our sleep. 1 stars
3/08/99 Film Review Definately better than SPR, and that's difficult. Sound and music is pinnacle. 5 stars
3/05/99 Vick Di Brecci Lacks the momentum and urgency of SPR but better in other ways (acting, dialogue,...) 4 stars
3/04/99 Steve Kelley This movie somehow became pseudo-intellectual reviewer's chance to show off. 2 stars
3/04/99 Andrew Feland One reviewer said it best: Malick never met a leaf he didn't like. 2 stars
3/03/99 Babu I have enjoyed it up to the brim due to the Dolby Digital effects. First attack too long. 5 stars
3/02/99 BillyZ233 Terrific acting and an incredible feel to it . I loved this thing and I will see it again. 5 stars
3/02/99 EmmetOtter Very long and boring. 2 stars
2/27/99 Jerry-93 Better than Days Of Heaven. The inclusion of overt homosexual tension made this a pisser. 2 stars
2/23/99 little jerry Criticised for being obscure when what struck me was its simple clarity.Welcome back Terry. 5 stars
2/21/99 Shanandler Bong Good sound, okay acting, NO PLOT TOO FUCKIN' LONG!!!! 3 stars
2/19/99 The Graduate Very strong and beautiful, and the lack of traditional plot or main character worked well. 4 stars
2/18/99 Piz Very good movie, terrible ending, tried to be all things to all people 4 stars
2/04/99 Joel Rick Most of the film was BORING !! 2 stars
2/04/99 grunter Makes "Saving Private Ryan" stick out like the cartoon that it really was 5 stars
1/30/99 Vick Di Brecci Good, not great. I preferred Saving Private Ryan 4 stars
1/28/99 MickCollins It's been 20 years,someone remind Terry how to edit. Plus,could we see more naked natives? 1 stars
1/28/99 Melody 1 of the better movies I saw last year 5 stars
1/26/99 Danielle Boucher To long, to moralistic 1 stars
1/23/99 Cory Clawson Very intense and at times, very symbolic 5 stars
1/23/99 Mr. Film Clearly people who like this movie are much smarter than the rest of us schmucks. 1 stars
1/22/99 Tristan The best war movie I have seen since Full Metal Jacket. 5 stars
1/22/99 Brunetta Amazing! Brilliantly plotted with one of the most original arguments ever! 5 stars
1/22/99 toby Works on many levels that few seem to be grasping. Great cinematography, Nolte's awesome. 5 stars
1/21/99 Angus This movie is about 2hrs&45min too long. artsy crap pretending to be a war movie.Boring 1 stars
1/21/99 Henry Stewart Incredible, more about fear than it is about war. Definitely not for all tastes, though. 5 stars
1/21/99 Robin Bellamy Good locations, Good SFX, Bad use of top notch actors as extra, No story, Poor editing!!!!! 1 stars
1/20/99 CLC Jason S-you are so right. what a waste of money. classic crappy movie making 1 stars
1/20/99 loborojo@hotmail.com if u dont mind having your butt hurt then watch dis thing. its gud! 5 stars
1/19/99 donkey_dew Beside Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List being the greatest movies ever made. 5 stars
1/19/99 You know who Come on, Jules. If you can't see this is PERFECTION, you should stop reviewing. 5 stars
1/18/99 Brendan Great movie you can't say anything bad about it! 5 stars
1/17/99 Amazed This film is not 180+ minutes. Get the facts before you review a film. 5 stars
1/17/99 Jeff good--but the cameos are distracting--better if made with a no-name cast 4 stars
1/17/99 crawdad The cinematography makes me want to see it again. Stunning. 5 stars
1/17/99 Jon Great Movie. Better Book. 5 stars
1/17/99 buddy Great film, I cared about these people unlike SPR where I couldn't remember their names. 5 stars
1/16/99 Jason Stein Biggest Dissapointment of the year!!!! 1 stars
1/16/99 Glitter I thought it was beautiful to look at, but there was no character depth or plot. 3 stars
1/16/99 mark Its Saving Private Ryan meets every Calvin Klein commercial. 1 stars
1/15/99 Joe Ferrara Well, not to wax too lyrical, but a lyrical epic. Almost every frame is a thing of beauty. 5 stars
1/13/99 jvt If you refuse to think don't see this movie. You'll probably walk out with the other morons 5 stars
1/13/99 Devon Good film. A bit long, but worth it. Jim Caviezel was awesome as Pvt. Witt 5 stars
1/13/99 Steve Kelley, SJKelley5@aol.com There's a point in a 3-hour poem when you want to strangle the poet. 1 stars
1/12/99 LT Terrence Mallick needs a large dose of get-over-yourself 1 stars
1/12/99 Mr Showbiz Jim Caviezel turns in a breakout performance, and Sean Penn and Nick Nolte also shine. 5 stars
1/12/99 Charles von Waldenberg III It was too long, incoherant, pointless and pretentious. Anyone get the point? 2 stars
1/10/99 Johny Miles above of Private Ryan, a great film 5 stars
1/09/99 crc this movie was a joke. i laughed at john travolta, and clooney. and nolte-pleeease. boring 1 stars
1/06/99 Vincent U know nothing about Terry Mallick Tiffany- get a clue 5 stars
1/06/99 Tiffany It REALLY wanted to be an art film along the lines of Apocalypse Now. It fell MILES short! 1 stars
1/05/99 Vincent 1- the film is under 3 hours 2- it's a NEW adaptation of the book NOT a remake of the film 5 stars
1/04/99 Landru Overrated. Full Metal Jacket was a better depiction of combat. 3 stars
1/03/99 Critic Deluxe Typical stereotypes from Hollywood writers. Technical inconsistencies detract. Good action 4 stars
12/30/98 sin chul lee korea 5 stars
12/26/98 The Dude COULD THIS MOVIE BE ANY FUCKING BETTEER------I DON'T THINK SO 5 stars
12/25/98 Cage Not as good as Private Ryan, but extremely well done.. Moving. 5 stars
12/25/98 Binky One word sums it up. Wow. 5 stars
12/07/98 Dick Richie Long, but what a great film. Lots of subplots, all riveting. 5 stars
11/21/98 RaidersFan Ben Chaplin makes a great American.This is an incredible movie!!! 5 stars
11/21/98 Richard Hill Astonishing. Don't expect "S.P. Ryan". More subdued, hypnotic. Harrelson, Penn great. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Dec-1998 (R)
  DVD: 28-Sep-2010

UK
  N/A

Australia
  18-Feb-1999 (MA)




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