The Thin Red Line (1998)

Terrence Malick directs Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn and Nick Nolte in this WWII drama looking at men battling to keep their souls in the battle of Guadalcanal.

There is an irony that one of most beautiful movies ever made is about the horrors of war. Forcing men to fight against their fear, morality and religion to cause death, experiencing hell on Earth on an island paradise. Malick truly paints with light… captures wrought faces, breathtaking landscapes, furious action and lots of metaphorical shots of nature patiently observing the violent follies of humanity. That last aspect robs The Thin Red Line of its perfect score, a shot of a crying soldier holding a bullfrog in the rain just felt too self parodic. Minor slip aside, this is inarguably the greatest cast of actors assembled in modern cinema. While some of the bigger names found their parts whittled down to mere cameos, there is meaty work from Penn, Elias Koteas, Woody Harrelson and especially Nick Nolte. How his toweringly compulsive tyrant of a turn failed to get a Best Supporting Actor nomination in that year’s Oscars is a mystery? (OK so he got nominated for Best Actor for Affliction but his co-star there James Coburn won Best Support… a political fudge that meant his finest on screen work was overlooked!)


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