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The Thin Red Line (The Criterion Collection) (1998)

Sean Penn , Adrien Brody , Terrence Malick  |  R |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,071 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, James Caviezel, George Clooney, John Cusack
  • Directors: Terrence Malick
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: September 28, 2010
  • Run Time: 170 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,071 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003KGBIR0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,201 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Thin Red Line (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Additional Features

The Criterion treatment of Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line has a raft of extras: recollections from members of the cast (including Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, and Thomas Jane), which leave the impression that nearly everybody on the film does a Terrence Malick imitation; a 20-minute piece on the casting process, with casting director Dianne Crittenden introducing fascinating audition tapes; a look at the process of editing Malick's enormous amount of raw footage (out of which came a movie considerably different from the script); 15 minutes of vintage newsreels about the Solomon Islands battles; and an eloquent 20-minute interview with Kaylie Jones, the daughter of James Jones, who recalls her father's complex feelings about war and some of the autobiographical incidents contained in his novel.

One of those incidents--the hand-to-hand killing of a Japanese soldier--was cut from the film but is included in the 15 minutes of outtakes here. Only 15 minutes? There must be hours more, but these few glimpses (including a scene with George Clooney and one abrupt moment with Mickey Rourke) will have to suffice for now. An audio commentary, with cinematographer John Toll, producer Grant Hill, and production designer Jack Fisk, is free-flowing and informative. Taken together, the special features paint a vivid portrait of Malick's searching approach, which depends on improvisation and chance as much as planning. --Robert Horton

Product Description

After directing two of the most extraordinary movies of the 1970s, Badlands and Days of Heaven, American artist Terrence Malick disappeared from the film world for twenty years, only to resurface in 1998 with this visionary adaptation of James Jones’s 1962 novel about the World War II battle for Guadalcanal. A big-budget, spectacularly mounted epic, THE THIN RED LINE is also one of the most deeply philosophical films ever released by a major Hollywood studio, a thought-provoking meditation on man, nature, and violence. Featuring a cast of contemporary cinema’s finest actors—Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking, Milk), Nick Nolte (The Prince of Tides, Affliction), Elias Koteas (Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers, The People vs. Larry Flynt) among them—THE THIN RED LINE is a kaleidoscopic evocation of the experience of combat that ranks as one of cinema’s greatest war films.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
230 of 256 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Video Poetry June 19, 2001
By A Customer
The same week I saw 'Saving Private Ryan', I saw 'The Thin Red Line'. I left the theater both times with the same reflective shock; silent for the drive home despite the questioning of my friends. In hindsight, I could have told you who would say what about these two films. 'Ryan' would attain wide commercial success, and 'Line' would be missed. Most, including anyone who reviews this film poorly, did not get it. This film is Video Poetry. In the same way that e.e. cummings would capitalize the letters R O U N and D through that wonderful poem about the round moon, the director laces the obvious bits of typical film (dialogue, acting) with constant thematic visual reinforcement. Man and nature are compared and contrasted. Just watch as the sun catches the blowing grasses in spectacular fashion before the field becomes a massacre. Our aims as a socitey are impeached. See the change in attitude between the native people and the formerly AWOL soldiers. There is an ugliness about it that you cannot help but feel. Something is intuitively wrong with everything going on, and the subtle suggestion of this fact is presented with difinitive dilligence. The sleeper of this film is the masterfully placed musical score- seamlessly woven through the fabric of tension and release- sometimes a backdrop, sometimes running thick over the dramatic action for reinforcement. Go buy the CDs- both are fantastic! I cannot believe that every soldier hazards the thoughts expressed in this film. Nor would I suppose it impossible that some in fact did. The war, however, is simply a device for the expression of some very valid points. If it makes you reconsider your preconceptions of what goes on in GI Joe's mind, all the better. If you are after an easily accessable night in front of the boob tube, go for Private Ryan. If you'd like something to think about for months to come, spend a few hours with The Thin Red Line.
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125 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion hits it out of the park with this Blu-Ray September 30, 2010
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
I already loved the film, so waited so patiently for Criterion to come out, as it simply HAD to come out, with a definitive edition. I read and posted on the various fora, sent the emails, re-tweeted the enigmatic and happy Twitpic that Criterion posted, jumped all over the Criterion newsletter when they came out with their gnomic icon confirmation. I got the Blu-Ray the day it dropped, and have spent the subsequent couple days in a kind of reverie. I just watched the film -- which is, full stop for effect, absolutely STUNNING in Blu-Ray. Every technical aspect, from the color to the surround-sound (I so love the use of Charles Ives' "The Unanswered Question" in the middle of a battlefield atrocity), is reference-quality AWESOME. I've yet to experience the commentary, but I've watched the insightful feature on James Jones and the novel from his daughter and listened to the chants; there's still the 15 deleted scenes and the wartime newsreels on Guadalcanal to go through, plus some other extras I'm sure. The essay is wonderful. If you think you experienced a religious ecstasy the first time you saw The Thin Red Line, just experience it again on this Criterion Blu-Ray and undergo true cinematic rapture.

** UPDATE ** I've watched all of the extra features, which are uniformly insightful and superb.

Commentary: This is by cinematographer John Toll, production designer Jack Fisk, and producer Grant Hill. Criterion commentaries are usually of three breeds, I find: hit-or-miss commentaries by film scholars (Peter Cowie's Bergman commentaries would be hits, the dull "you see the door in that shot?
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122 of 140 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very moving war film! June 7, 2001
"The Thin Red Line" had the severe bad luck of being released in the shadow of one of the most favored modern war films of all time, "Saving Private Ryan." Oscar buzz was all the rage for that film, which focused on the war in Europe as well as patriotism and courage. "The Thin Red Line" chooses to focus more on the human beings at war than the country or mission for which they are fighting. It dives deep into the subconscious of its characters, exposing their feelings in the face of battle and carnage. Though heavily stylized, director Terrence Malick knows where the movie is going, and takes it there in stride.
Spanning a running time of just short of three hours, we're taken on a journey to Guadalcanal, where American troops are landing on the sandy beaches only to encounter a foe that, for a while, seems unbeatable. Their mission: to take over an airstrip and give America an advantage in the Pacific War. It is here that the characters are established: First Sergeant Welsh (Sean Penn), whose only wish is to lose all feeling for the events he experiences; Lt. Colonel Tall (Nick Nolte), obsessed more with his image than with actual victory; Private Witt (Jim Caviezel), a quiet, almost spiritual soldier with a soft yet firm heart; and Private Bell (Ben Chaplin), whose memories of his wife are what fuel his drive to fulfill his mission so he may return home.
Like "Ryan," this film has intense images of graphic violence associated with war and battle. While Malick does not use the same technique as Speilberg, whose film is gritty and never without unsteady camera shots, his slow-motion captures, cut to the powerful score of Hans Zimmer, are just as moving and powerful.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Thought I'd like it
The storyline was difficult to follow. Movie didn't flow very well. That said storyline threads had good messages.
Enjoyed seeing where the many actors began their careers.
Published 1 day ago by Vivian
5.0 out of 5 stars emotional and educational that I highly recommended. There were some...
This film is very touching, emotional and educational that I highly recommended. There were some scenes that were pretty violent and graphic. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Lynn Wong-Thai
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic deep movie on the workings of the inner psyches ...
Fantastic deep movie on the workings of the inner psyches of those about to die. The dialogue regarding the contrasting philosophies on the meaning of life between Jim Caviezel... Read more
Published 7 days ago by B. Koral
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good movie
Published 7 days ago by Deborah Porath
4.0 out of 5 stars The thin red Line is just short of the movie "Saving Private Ryan" by...
Truly a great movie, I wish I had the chance to give this movie *4 & 1/2* stars. But Amazon does not allow that, so
I must go with four Stars. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Robert Pylant
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Visual Masterpiece!
This film had the unfortunate luck to be released conterminous with Saving Private Ryan. Like Wyatt Earp and Tombstone in 1993, both films have their followers and detractors. Read more
Published 8 days ago by A. Nathaniel Wallace, Jr.
3.0 out of 5 stars Middling, not as boring as some say
Definitely self-indulgent on the part of the director. Full of actors who thought they were going to be "part of something". Overall pretty good though. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Thoughtful Reviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the most philosophical war film ever made
1. I first saw this film about the year 2000. I wasn’t ready for it. All I remember thinking is, “this is the strangest and most beautiful war movie I’ve ever seen. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Paul Donovan
5.0 out of 5 stars Visual poetry
I saw this in the theater on its opening weekend. Right after it ended, my friend said, "I want to see it again with the sound off, so I can just look at the images. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Too many "stars"
I generally hesitate in writing a review of anything that has this many other reviews already posted, as it virtually guarantees that no one will read it, especially since it is a... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Larry Benjamin
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