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The Thin Red Line(1998)
As US soldiers land on the island of Guadalcanal, hoping to capture it from the Japanese, the job of venturing into the jungle falls to the 'C for Charlie' company and the troops are faced by both the enemy and struggles within their own camp. The war takes a heavy toll upon the young soldiers, leading them on a path of disillusion and possibly death.
For more about The Thin Red Line and the The Thin Red Line Blu-ray release, see the The Thin Red Line Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 11, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Director: Terrence Malick
Writers: Terrence Malick, James Jones
Starring: Nick Nolte, Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn, Elias Koteas, Ben Chaplin, Dash Mihok
» See full cast & crew
The Thin Red Line Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 11, 2010
Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" (1998) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include new, exclusive audio commentary with designer Jack Fisk, producer Grant Hill, and cinematographer John Toll; various featurettes with cast and crew members recalling their work on the film; outttakes; interviews; the film's original theatrical trailer; and more. The disc also arrives with a 36-page illustrated booklet. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line is a war film about everything Hollywood made war films do not show – real horror, real pain, men who do not want to be heroes. It is also a film about fear, the type that could destroy men from the inside out, ripping apart their souls.
In 1943, U.S. troops are deployed on the South Pacific island of Guadalcanal and ordered to take over a Japanese stronghold. While making their way through the jungle, some of the soldiers collapse from exhaustion, some begin to question everything they have been taught to believe in. When they eventually clash with the Japanese, some of the soldiers also begin to lose their minds.
The entire operation is seen primarily through the eyes of five men: Lt. Colonel Tall (Nick Nolte, The Prince of Tides), a tough man who believes that the war is the only chance he has left to prove that he was born to be a leader; Private Witt (James Caviezel, The Passion of the Christ), who has come to realize that the war is a dirty business he has no desire to be a part of; Sergeant Staros (Elias Koteas, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), who does not approve of Lt. Colonel Tall's tactics; Private Bell (Ben Chaplin, Birthday Girl), who cannot stop thinking about the beautiful woman (Miranda Otto, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) he wants to marry; and Sergeant Welsh (Sean Penn, Mystic River), a cynical, cold-hearted but also just man. Occasionally, there are other characters that come and go; some get killed, some simply disappear: Sergeant Keck (Woody Harrelson, The Hi-Lo Country), a charming joker; Captain Gaff (John Cusack, Being John Malkovich), a brilliant tactician; Sergeant McCron (John Savage, The Deer Hunter), a quiet, ordinary man; etc.
Based on James Jones' novel, The Thin Red Line is a notably chaotic film, one that relies on sudden changes of tempo and dynamics to effectively recreate the maddening nature of war. Malick's camera often captures the soldiers as they question their sanity or recall dear moments from their once happy lives. A few are also shown being completely disconnected from reality. These constant switches - entering the soldiers' minds and then showing the fierce battles - are what cause the aforementioned chaos.
Then there is the other reality, the other world which Malick shows - a beautiful, peaceful, secluded world, populated with exotic animals and birds, which the soldiers are not allowed to enter. They can sense it – especially at nighttime, when it gets quiet - but the moment they attempt to get close to it, they begin to disintegrate.
When The Thin Red Line premiered, one esteemed critic wrote that when the Japanese were defeated Malick did not know where to go with the movie. I disagree. The Thin Red Line does not tell a battle story. Rather it attempts to recreate what men experience when they face death – a gradual, maddening detachment from reality that destroys their souls.
In 1999, The Thin Red Line won Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival. During the same year, the film also won the ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases (John Toll) granted by the American Society of Cinematographers.
The Thin Red Line Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.34:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"Supervised and approved by director Terence Malick and cinematographer John Toll, this new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit 4K Datacine from the original 35mm camera negative in 4K resolution. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean system.
Telecine supervisors: Terence Malick, John Toll, Lee Kline.
Telecine colorist: Bryan McMahan/Prime Focus, Los Angeles."
This is an exceptionally strong high-definition transfer. Fine object detail is terrific, clarity fantastic and contrast levels consistent throughout the entire film. The color-scheme is quite unbelievable - reds, greens, blues, yellows, browns and blacks are rich and exceptionally well saturated; indeed, some scenes have a near 3D look. Heavy edge-enhancement and macroblocking are not an issue of concern. I did not detect any traces of problematic filtering either. On the contrary, blown through a digital projector The Thin Red Line conveys spectacular depth and tightness. Even the darker scenes in the jungle look incredible. Lastly, I did not see any annoying flecks, scratches, stains or debris to report in this review. To sum it all up, Criterion's Blu-ray release of The Thin Red Line represents a remarkable upgrade, one that I am convinced will meet the quality expectations of even the most demanding amongst fans of the film. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Thin Red Line Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The surround soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original 6-track magnetic audio. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD."
In my opinion, the audio treatment is even more impressive than the video treatment. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is exceptionally potent, boasting a variety of different dynamics that will undoubtedly test the muscles of your audio system. The bass is thunderous, the rear channels very active and very effective (the memory flashbacks sound incredible), and the high-frequencies not overdone. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and very easy to follow. There are no balance issues to report with Hans Zimmer's beautiful music score either. Lastly, when you press the Play button on your remote, a short note on the main menu would announce "Director Terrence Malick recommends that The Thin Red Line be played loud." Do it.
The Thin Red Line Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Actors - a half-hour documentary in which actors Kirk Acevedo, Jim Caviezel, Tom Jane, Elias Koteas, Dash Mihok, and Sean Penn discuss the production history of The Thin Red Line as well as their work with director Malick. In English, without optional subtitles. (34 min, 1080p).
Casting - in this featurette, recorded exclusively for Criterion in May, 2010, casting director Dianne Critended discusses her work on the pre-production of The Thin Red Line. Also included in the featuerret is original footage from several casting sessions with actors Ben Chaplin, Tom Jane, Elias Koteas, Dash Mihok, John Savage, and Nick Stahl. In English, not subtitled. (18 min, 1080p).
Editors - in this featurette, recorded exclusively for Criterion in May, 2010, editors Leslie Jones, Saar Klein, and Billy Weber discuss how the final version of The Thin Red Line was put together. In English, not subtitled. (28 min, 1080p).
Music - in this interview, recorded exclusively for Criterion in May, 2010, Oscar nominated composer Hans Zimmer discusses his work on The Thin Red Line and relationship with director Malick. In English, not subtitled. (17 min, 1080p).
Outtakes - eight outtakes presented in rough form. In English, not subtitled. (14 min, 1080p):
1. Witt and Storm drunk
2. Bead volunteers his squad
3. Mazzi drunk
4. Bead kills a Japanese soldier
5. Witt and the sniper (with Mickey Rourke)
6. Japanese POWs
7. Bell and Bosche
8. Fife leaves
Kaylie Jones - in this interview, recorded exclusively for Criterion in May 2010, Kaylie Jones, daughter of novelist James Jones (The Thin Red Line), discusses her father's book and how its message was carried over to the film. In English, not subtitled. (20 min, 1080p).
Guadalcanal in newsreels - a collection of archival newsreels, highlighting the successes of the troops but omitting the horrors an suffering the soldiers had to endure, which were shown in America during World War II. In English, not subtitled. (16 min, 1080p):
1. The Battle for the Solomons
2. United Nations Smash Japanese in South Pacific
3. U.S. Marines on Guadalcanal Push Back Jap Troops
4. Jap Ships Smashed at Guadalcanal
5. Guadalcanal Victory Garden
Melanesian Chants - a selection of songs recorded in November 1997 on the South Pacific island of Guadalcanal, illustrated with photographs from the production of The Thin Red Line. (7 min, 1080p).
Trailer - the original theatrical trailer for the film. In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080p).
Commentary - in this audio commentary, recorded exclusively for Criterion in 2010, production designer Jack Fisk, producer Grant Hill, and cinematographer John Toll recall their work with director Malick, and discuss the production history of The Thin Red Line, the unprecedented cast, the film's powerful message, etc.
Booklet - 36-page illustrated booklet containing David Sterritt's essay "This Side of Paradise" (the author is chairman of the National Society of Film Critics, chief book critic at Film Quarterly, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University and the Maryland Institute College of Arts); and writer James Jones' article "Phony War Films", first published in the March 30, 1963 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.
The Thin Red Line Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Thin Red Line has received a treatment that I believe would make even director Malick proud! The film looks and sounds incredible. Criterion's Blu-ray disc also contains a variety of new, produced exclusively for this release supplemental features. Yes, this is the complete package everyone was hoping for. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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