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The Thin Red Line

The film centres on a single episode in the fighting between American and Japanese soldiers over the South Pacific island of Guadalcanal, and particularly for one ridge. The realism of modern special effects, is, as usual, stunning. The war scenes are graphic and disturbing. However, if 'Private Ryan' focused on the reality of combat, the focus here is on the internal world of the soldier. The fear experienced by the various characters (and no one character takes centre stage in this movie) is palpable. Everyone is afraid. There are no fearless gung-ho heroes here. The camera lingers in close-up on the faces of men who are deeply fearful. The sound track is taken over for long minutes by the vocalised thoughts of the men in action. We are asked to evaluate how different men respond to the terrible things that might be done to them by their fellow men.

John Tindall

The Thin Red Line

I took my wife to see 'Saving Private Ryan' and both of us were overwhelmed and moved to tears by that brilliant display of what military combat is like at ground level. But in watching 'The Thin Red Line' together she was bored and sleepy; I was stimulated and fascinated. That about sums up the reactions of the critics to this film; some think it is pretentious and heavy, others that it is 'an extraordinary meditation on war by Terence Malick'.