The Thin Red Line (Malick, 1998)

In preparation of seeing Tree of Life, I’ve been watching the Malick’s I haven’t seen. Watched Days of Heaven a few weeks ago, and wasn’t blown away. Today, I was blown away. The Thin Red Line is definitely, by far, my favourite Malick (haven’t seen New World or ToL yet). While Days of Heaven – an acclaimed *masterpiece* – was underwhelming, and made me question Malick’s greatness, The Thin Red Line has entirely erased any doubts I had. Unlike Days of Heaven and Badlands, this film is not the slightest bit pretentious, and the beautiful imagery – usually of nature – is not used in vain; it poetically expresses the content of the film.

While Days of Heaven and Badlands both boast terrific cinematography, I found them pretty average films otherwise; cardboard acting, pseudo-philosophical voice-over, jarring and disjunctive camera cuts. I knew Malick had some genius in him – it shows briefly in Badlands and Days of Heaven – but now I have seen it in full. I can understand why he stopped filmmaking after Days of Heaven, a film he considered to be a failure. He was right. He knew he was capable of more, and 20 some odd years later proved it. Can’t wait for Tree of Life!

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About Kamran Ahmed

I have a Masters in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto. I work as a freelance writer and film critic in Vancouver. My writing is primarily distributed through Next Projection, an online film journal based in Toronto.
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