The Thin Red Line (1998) is only the third film directed by Terrence Malick, the maverick genius of American cinema, in his thirty-year career. Set during the savage World War II battle for Gaudalcanal, it boasts a stellar cast - including George Clooney, Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, and John Travolta - but otherwise goes entirely against the grain of conventional Hollywood filmmaking. Action, narrative, and patriotism are subordinated to cryptic interior monologues and exquisite images of animals and nature, a strategy found by many to be perplexing and disconcerting. How to make sense of this extraordinary film? Michel Chion traces the film's connections to Malick's earlier work and links The Thin Red Line to the novel on which it is loosely based. More than that, he pays minute attention to the film itself - the images, sounds, faces, landscapes, and words that create a magnificent reflection on the beauty, inexplicability, and tragedy of our coexistence with each other and with the world.
Publisher: British Film Institute