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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Thin Red Line


Starring: Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin and George Clooney
Twentieth Century Home Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 16 May 2011

In World War II, the outcome of the battle of Guadalcanal will strongly influence the Japanese's advance into the pacific. A group of young soldiers is brought in as a relief for the battle-weary Marine units. The horrors of war forms the soldiers into a tight-knit group, their emotions develop into bonds of love and even family. The reasons for this war get further away as the world for the men gets smaller and smaller until their fighting is for mere survival and the life of the other men with them...

While many critics have argued that The Thin Red Line is one of the finest contemporary war films ever committed to film - even more impressive than Saving Private Ryan and Platoon, I have to disagree. Yes, it's visually stunning and packed with numerous stand out moments, but I found the general story telling to be a lot less engaging than the aforementioned films. I felt that it 'borrowed' heavily from Platoon but without really bringing anything new to the table.

Part of the problem could be down to the fact that the director, Terrence Malick, wasn't really sure himself what he wanted from the movie while filming. And then he left the editors alone as they were cutting the movie and, as one of the featurettes on this Blu-ray reveals, only ever saw a rough cut of the film once (and a five hour cut at that) and never saw it again.

I felt that an hour could have been shaved off the finished film (which is just under three hours in length) and nothing would have been lost. There are plot threads and ideas that look promising and never go anywhere.

Extras include and audio commentary with Jack Fish (Production Designer), Grant Hill (Producer) and John Toll (Cinemaphotographer); The Thin Red Line: Actor’s Perspective (23 min, 20 sec which interviews some of the key cast on their memories of the shoot); Editing of the Thin Red Line: Shaping A Terrace Malick Film (24 min, 32 sec); Hans Zimmer on the Thin Red Line (16 min, 28 sec); Deleted Scenes (13 min, 36 sec); Guadalcanal in Newsreels (15 min, 21 sec vintage news reels); Trailer (2 min, 43 sec).

The actors all turn in incredible performances and visually the movie is beautiful it's just that the finished film felt like a collection of ideas that were never really put into a cohesive plot. The end result felt like a rough cut that needed a director to wade in and recut it to give the story more soul.


Darren Rea

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