536 The Thin Red Line

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Fletch F. Fletch
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536 The Thin Red Line

#1 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Wed Nov 17, 2004 10:14 am

The Thin Red Line

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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, Jim Caviezel, Nick Nolte, Elias Koteas, and Woody Harrelson 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.

DISC FEATURES

- New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Terrence Malick and cinematographer John Toll (with DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition)
- New audio commentary featuring Toll, production designer Jack Fisk, and producer Grant Hill
- Outtakes from the film
- Video interviews with several of the film’s actors, including Kirk Acevedo, Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, Tom Jane, Elias Koteas, Dash Mihok, and Sean Penn
- New video interview with casting director Dianne Crittenden, featuring original audition footage
- New interview with composer Hans Zimmer
- New video piece featuring interviews with editors Billy Weber, Leslie Jones, and Saar Klein
- An interview with writer James Jones’s daughter Kaylie Jones
- World War II newsreels featuring footage from Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands
- Original theatrical trailer
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Sterritt and a 1963 essay by James Jones on war films

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bunuelian
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#2 Post by bunuelian » Wed Nov 17, 2004 10:34 am

Fletch F. Fletch wrote:I was surfing around for info on Terence Malick's last film, The Thin Red Line and came across an interesting link. On the Ebert and Roeper site, Ebert did a show with Scorsese where they talked about the best films of the '90s. Scorsese's #2 pick was The Thin Red Line (you can listen to his comments here. He made some excellent observations about Malick's movie, most significantly that "it's almost like an endless picture. It has no beginning and no end." This is very true. One could easily start watching the movie at any point and immerse themselves in the rich, detailed world that Malick creates in this movie.

So then I ran across another good look at the movie at Reverse Shot that argues that for a significant portion of the movie, Malick is quite faithful to James Jones novel, including faithful recreations of two of the most important locations in the book.

I always thought that this film was an incredibly thoughtful and moving philosophical meditation on war, the environment and death. I really like how the film has no one protagonist but told from multiple points of view. Of course, this pissed off people who were hoping for more straightforward, linear narrative a la Saving Private Ryan. The week it came out a close relative of mine had died and watching the movie (I actually saw it several times that week) was something of a cathartic experience and helped me deal with the loss of a loved one.

Not to mention the film is beautifully shot with some truly stunning "magic hour" scenes that had me thinking of some simliar shots in Malick's previous film, Days of Heaven. John Toll's cinematography is breathtaking. There are so many shots that immediately come to mind. For example, there is one where the soldiers in Charlie Company are crouched in a field of tall grass and the sun shift behind clouds as suddenly there is a shift in light. Most filmmakers would have considered something like that an imperfection and cut it but Malick keeps it in and it works in a quiet and unassuming way.
The shot of the soldiers climbing the hill with the shadows of clouds climbing with them sticks in my mind as one of the most beautiful cinematic moments I've seen. Need to revisit this one some day . . .

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#3 Post by obloquy » Wed Nov 17, 2004 12:47 pm

I watched this again not long ago and was blown away all over again. I adore Malick's work, and this is one of the most beautiful, tranquil (despite its setting), spiritual films I have ever experienced. There's so much peace and beauty...I feel like Malick is someone I would really get along with. It's the only war movie I care to see.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#4 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Wed Nov 17, 2004 1:37 pm

Agreed. Like Days of Heaven, I really find The Thin Red Line fascinating in that it contains a minimal amount of dialogue and relys more on voiceover narration and visuals to tell the story. Malick really understands the notion of movies as visual storytelling and lets his powerful imagery say more than any dialogue ever could.

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#5 Post by foofighters7 » Thu Nov 18, 2004 12:41 am

Amazing film. My favorite Malick. I absolutly love this film, and Jim Caviezel does a magnificent job.

Its one of those films that if it were 8 hours long I would still make it a frequent watcher. Aparently the rough version of the film was quite a bit longer, I cant remember exacts but I believe it was about 5-7 hours originally, and there has been talk about a 'Directors Cut', but Malick I believe has already said that the cut that is out is his cut and thats all he wanted, but still I would love to see the additional scenes.

I had read back before the film even came out that Woody Allen had a scene in it, and he was watching butterflies!
Then when I seen it he wasnt there, so im sure this was a cut scene.

I talked to Jim Caviezel shortly after this film came out, and I was able to express my fondness for his acting in this film, and was able to get a few questions in about Malick. But anyways I asked him about upcoming films and he had just returned from filming a scene with Al Pacino for Any Given Sunday. He played his son. I went to see him in it, and sure enough he got cut out. But he did make it to the dvds deleted footage.
Perhaps a 'working cut' will float up, if it even exist, somewhat like the crazy long cut of Apocalypse Now.
Just a wish Im sure.

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#6 Post by Poncho Punch » Thu Nov 18, 2004 2:40 am

I think Andy Garcia was cut out of The Thin Red Line.

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#7 Post by Polybius » Thu Nov 18, 2004 4:57 am

I believe Brody's part was whittled down considerably, also.

I join the chorus in adoring this film, and all of Malick's work. Lyrical, moving and ultimately very profound.

As time goes on, I think it will begin to be seen as the superior of the two films, over SPR, which is really just a typical pseudo-nostalgic hokumfest (like the movie that the camp voiceover guy does the blurb for in M*A*S*H) with a truly astounding, bravura combat sequence added at the start of it.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#8 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Thu Nov 18, 2004 10:06 am

foofighters7 wrote:Aparently the rough version of the film was quite a bit longer, I cant remember exacts but I believe it was about 5-7 hours originally,

I had read back before the film even came out that Woody Allen had a scene in it, and he was watching butterflies! Then when I seen it he wasnt there, so im sure this was a cut scene.
According to the editors who worked on the movie, their first cut was 5 hours long.

I have not heard about Woody Allen being in it but I do know that Mickey Rourke (he played a sharpshooter) and Bill Pullman shot scenes that were ultimately cut.

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#9 Post by BWilson » Thu Nov 18, 2004 1:53 pm

I've always strongly agreed with Scorsese's assesment of the film being "endless". I recall when that Ebert episode aired (Dec '99 or Jan 2000) Thin Red Line had begun airing in heavy rotation on HBO (or Cinemax). I had come to the same conclusion Scorsese had because I found that everytime I flipped through the chanels and saw it, I could just pick it up at whatever point it was at.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#10 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Fri Dec 02, 2005 10:30 am

An amusing anecdote about storyboard artist Mark Bristol and how he got the gig to work on Malick's movie. From The Austin Chronicle:
"When I first moved out here from Austin," recalls Bristol, "I used to get a lot of calls from low-budget, indie films back in Texas saying, "Hey, can you come back? We can't give you any money, but, you know, we need a storyboard artist.' And, of course, my heartstrings were always pulled but by that point, I'd made up my mind: No more low-budget films.

"That was what was running through my mind when I got this message on my machine from this really wonderful, sweet-sounding man named Terry Malick. I'll tell you right now the name didn't connect with me. I had no idea who this guy was, and so I didn't call him back. He had mentioned that he was developing this movie, and he had seen the storyboard work that I had done for The War at Home and he'd like to work with me. He didn't mention at all what the film was or anything like that. I just figured he was some low-budget filmmaker with no experience. And then he called back.

"We had a really delightful conversation, and I was just so charmed by him. We really had a great time talking about storyboarding, and essentially I was just trying to feel him out. I asked him what, if anything, he had done before, and he said, 'Oh, I've done a couple of things.' He never even mentioned that this was going to be this big, epic war film, The Thin Red Line. And so I ended up saying I was just going to have to pass. I actually ended up recommending some books on directing to him that I thought might help him on his way, books like The Making of Jurassic Park, because in the back they've got all these examples of Spielberg's storyboard work, and The Making of Terminator 2 for the same reason. And again, he was like, 'Oh, I think I've seen those. Sure, I'll check 'em out.'

"Finally, two or so weeks go by, and I get another message from him saying that he's coming out to Los Angeles, and he'd like to meet. By this time I was thinking this was one of the most tenacious guys I'd ever talked to. I ended up calling my friend Carty Talkington, who directed Love and a .45 and who lived in Dallas at the time, and I told him, 'Hey, there's this guy who keeps calling me, he says he's a director, but I really don't think so. His name's Terrence Malick.' And this voice explodes out of my phone shouting, 'Terrence Malick!' I mean, he just freaked, and rightly so, and he mentioned Days of Heaven and Badlands, and my heart just stopped. My only thought was that I'd just blown the Terrence Malick off.

"Needless to say, I called Terry back and told him I'd love to do the movie, and the rest, as they say, is history."

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#11 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:14 pm

Around the 25 minute mark, Charlie Rose interviews Nick Nolte on The Thin Red Line. Marvelous stuff.

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#12 Post by John Cope » Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:19 pm

Michael Atkinson's ruminations on the cut that may have been and may someday be again.

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Re: The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, 1998)

#13 Post by stwrt » Fri Oct 31, 2008 6:40 am

When I watched this movie in 1998 I wondered what it was the narrative voice reminded me of, something of the earth and omniscient, then I was flicking through a copy of Tolstoy's Sebastopol Sketches a few years back and there it was, that same tone. Interesting to know if Malick used Tolstoy to form his movies's tone.

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Criterion Newsletter (Part 2)

#14 Post by zedz » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:48 pm

My favourite Malick by far. I wonder if he's been persuaded to allow any of the fabled deleted scenes to be included?

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Re: Criterion Newsletter (Part 2)

#15 Post by richast2 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:50 pm

zedz wrote:My favourite Malick by far. I wonder if he's been persuaded to allow any of the fabled deleted scenes to be included?
if anyone could convince him, Criterion could. That being said, I'm not holding my breath. The potential for the bonus features on this one is mind-boggling.

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Re: Criterion Newsletter (Part 2)

#16 Post by Murdoch » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:53 pm

Glad I held off on the current release then, in celebration I will use my finest smiley \:D/

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zedz
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Re: Criterion Newsletter (Part 2)

#17 Post by zedz » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:55 pm

If he weren't busy actually making another film (of all things), I would have been hoping for a full-fledged alternative cut, since we got enough of those with The New World. Given the amount of stuff apparently unused, this could even have been an alternative film.

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Re: Criterion Newsletter (Part 2)

#18 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:14 pm

I already said this was coming a few weeks ago from an extremely reliable source. Glad that it's pretty much confirmed.

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Re: Criterion Newsletter (Part 2)

#19 Post by captveg » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:15 pm

Mr. Ned wrote:Great as this is, does this nix the potential of a Badlands CC? I was under the impression there was only one Malick film in the pipeline...
Badlands has always been difficult due to Warner not licensing, no? Seems to be unrelated.

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Re: Criterion Newsletter (Part 2)

#20 Post by MyNameCriterionForum » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:49 pm

richast2 wrote:
zedz wrote:My favourite Malick by far. I wonder if he's been persuaded to allow any of the fabled deleted scenes to be included?
if anyone could convince him, Criterion could. That being said, I'm not holding my breath. The potential for the bonus features on this one is mind-boggling.
Well, except that Malick will absolutely not appear on camera or record any sort of commentary; he's not even likely to provide any sort of written comments. Having read every existing interview with him, it's his thoughts - and only his - that would really be interesting to me. His interview circa Badlands was fan-fucking-tastic regarding his influences and point of view. The commentaries on Days of Heaven were very good, though, and most surprising of all were Richard Gere's thoughtful, lucid remarks (who woulda guessed?). Seems to me that, as others have said, the single greatest feature would be an alternate cut/cuts (not likely) or at least some of the alternate footage (more likely but still not holding my breath).

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Re: Criterion Newsletter (Part 2)

#21 Post by Svevan » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:52 pm

zedz wrote:If he weren't busy actually making another film (of all things), I would have been hoping for a full-fledged alternative cut, since we got enough of those with The New World. Given the amount of stuff apparently unused, this could even have been an alternative film.
As much as I admire The Thin Red Line, I would love to see an alternate cut that reshapes whole passages. Some aspects of this film totally work for me while others don't. The New World (theatrical, haven't seen recut version yet) was to me a much tighter experience.

I doubt it'll happen, though. Either way, we'll have two Malick Blus in the collection, which is pretty awesome.

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Re: Criterion Newsletter (Part 2)

#22 Post by MyNameCriterionForum » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:58 pm

By most accounts he could make six different films with as many casts, considering all the unused footage and actors completely excised from the finished version.

One thing I would REALLY like to see - if not here in the extra features, then somewhere, eventually, from a film critic - is how Malick's approach to nature jives/doesn't jive with the enormous footprint (physical, financial, resources, etc.) making a film like Thin Red Line has. I mean, when they bombed that hillside, that was real... what about the animals there? Does he concern himself about that sort of thing? I'm not interested in blame or responsibility or anything like that; I'd just like to hear how he approaches that aspect of what he does.

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Re: Criterion Newsletter (Part 2)

#23 Post by oldsheperd » Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:12 pm

I read when the film first came out that those big fields of long grass were intentionally planted for the film.

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Re: Criterion Newsletter (Part 2)

#24 Post by Spielbergo » Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:35 pm

Only recently did I come to admire TTRL. On BD, however, it'll be even more rewarding an experience.

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Re: Criterion Newsletter (Part 2)

#25 Post by Perkins Cobb » Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:43 pm

Yecch. They should just reprint the James Jones novel in the booklet, and forget to include the disc.

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