CineFile – The Thin Red Line

“In this world, a man, himself, is nothin’. And there aint no world but this one.”

If you’ve read the blog this past week, you’ll have some idea of why I’ve chosen Terrence Malick‘s The Think Red Line for this week’s CineFile post. There is that crushing illusion in which war between states and armed conflict among contending forces, and the ideas and human drives that dress them, is the vehicle of human meaning.  There is also that naked truth of individual lives, every life, carried along in the vehicle, yet stripped of the illusion. In Malick’s masterpiece, situated within the history of the greatest, most just of wars, there is no ideology or politics. There are no national leaders or popular encomia to rescue the warrior and pull him from beneath the wheel. We barely know these are American soldiers or where the battle is being fought. While other, contemporaneous combat films have sought to vivify to new levels the destructive physical horror of war, The Thin Red Line is saturated in the spiritual desolation and moral despair of war balanced against a dream of transcendance.

Though I couldn’t find an acceptable video of any individual scene, I came across this fan re-edited distillation of the film in just over four minutes. It is remarkably well done, especially over the first three quarters, after which a rough transition and some deterioration in the video quality take us to a fitting and apposite close.

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