The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red Line

Terrence Malick (1998)

15 Certificate
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Our Score
After 20 years in the film-making wilderness, Terrence Malick released this belated third feature - a magnificent account of the Second World War battle for Guadalcanal island in the South Pacific. Based on James Jones's novel of the same name, first filmed in 1964, it's a long, discursive and deeply philosophical evocation of war, beautifully shot by John Toll. Although the film boasts an all-star cast, big names such as John Travolta and George Clooney make only brief appearances, though Sean Penn as a cynical sergeant and Nick Nolte as an uncompromising lieutenant colonel make deeper impressions. The principal role, however, goes to the then-little-known Jim Caviezel as Private Witt, the nonconformist and idealist who seems completely at one with the tropical surroundings, while British actor Ben Chaplin gives a convincing performance as the ordinary Joe who dreams of his wife back home. But it is Malick himself who provides the real star turn with his extraordinary direction. This is a modern masterpiece.


The personal stories of American soldiers sent to fight on the Pacific island of Guadalcanal during the Second World War. The men, among them a former deserter, are forced to confront their fears and beliefs during a bitter conflict for control of a key airfield. Terrence Malick's Second World War drama, adapted from James Jones' 1962 novel. Starring Sean Penn, Ben Chaplin, Nick Nolte, Jim Caviezel and Woody Harrelson.

Cast & Crew

First Sgt Welsh Sean Penn
Private Witt Jim Caviezel
Captain Gaff John Cusack
Private Bell Ben Chaplin
Lt Col Tall Nick Nolte
Keck Woody Harrelson
Captain "Bugger" Staros Elias Koteas
Qintard John Travolta
Bosche George Clooney
Corporal Fife Adrien Brody
Storm John C Reilly
Whyte Jared Leto
Tills Tim Blake Nelson
McCron John Savage
Bead Nick Stahl
Ash Thomas Jane
Marty Bell Miranda Otto
Director Terrence Malick
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: 20th Century FoxGuidance: Contains violence and swearing. Available on: video, DVD and Blu-ray