100 Movies You Need to See Before You Die

The Thin Red Line (1998)

Country: USA
Director: Terrence Malick
Screenwriter: Terrence Malick
Stars: Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, George Clooney, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Dash Mihok, Elias Koteas, Jared Leto, Tim Blake Nelson, Nick Nolte, John C. Reilly, John Travolta

We're lucky, all of us. Terrence Malick is back in the spotlight, regularly making films. That wasn't always the case. When The Thin Red Line, the best American war film of the last few decades, hit theaters, it had been 20 years since his last feature. 

Malick's war movie isn't like the others, which is why it's better. As a filmmaker, the notorious recluse is more interested in the possibility of the human voice paired with moving images than with traditional exchanges of dialogue that serve story. He's more interested in the possibility of cutting between blades of grass and soldiers moving in streams and a bird crippled on the ground than traditional, transparent editing.

Malick is an artist, and his imperfect The Thin Red Line is his heavy meditation on grace, nature, and destruction. You kneel before it. —RS

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