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It took me two efforts to get through it – but it was very rewarding when I did. It seems a bit odd when you watch this film these days – as “these days” are the days after “Bands of Brothers” and “The Pacific” have been out for a while. If you have seen “The Pacific”, you have seen “The Thin Red Line”, in a way – and in another way, they are perfect companion pieces. They share their merciless depiction of a battle for some godforsaken hill on some godforsaken islands in the middle of the (yes, godforsaken) South Pacific. Most of the soldiers are not perfectly sure of where they are, nobody really understands why it is so terribly important to get up and over that hill. While “The Pacific” establishes a series of cruel battles, wearing out the soldiers and the equipment, continuing a terrible ordeal that we were following at this point for quite a while already, “The Thin Red Line” throws us right into a singular situation, but then pauses occasionally to reflect on life, war, and everything, and takes its time to adore the beauty of the grass and the trees, to establish silent moments of watching the children play after the battle, of swimming with the locals and not wanting to go away again. While they fight, this fight us ruthless against the enemy and between the rivals for leadership in the battles. While they rest, they all are but a bunch of dudes with nonsense in their head who were thrown into war before they were even allowed to drink alcohol. Terrence Mallick seeks to show (I think) the absurdity if this situation, the many facets that makes war a surreal experience, from which there is no sane escape. It is beautiful to watch, sometimes it tortures the audience with an intended stalling, a removal of all pace, and forces you to empathize with the filmmaker in his desire to reflect upon the topic of humanity, conflict, and loss. The impressive cast around Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, and many others carry the film without being oppressive – maybe with the exception of George Clooney, who has an oddly out-of-touch part, apparently just to show off.

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