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Video Review: The Thin Red Line (15, rental) - DRAWING A LINE UNDER GORE; Terrence Malick has made a powerful statement about the futility of war with this star-studded masterpiece.

It was shame that Saving Private Ryan stole most of The Thin Red Line's thunder. Released at around the same time, the Spielberg epic was bigger, louder and more mainstream than this similarly themed effort from Terrence Malick, so it got all the attention. But the two movies should never have been compared in the first place as they're very different animals.

The story of The Thin Red Line takes place around the battle of Guadalcanal Island in the Pacific during the Second World War, but director Malick resists going for the instantly visually impressive route of big, bloody battle scenes. Instead he bravely chooses to base his tale around the lives of the men who make up an American rifle company, showing how the mechanics of war - from the fierce fighting to the lengthy, deadening periods of boredom and monotony - eventually effect all of them, from the weakest to the strongest.

John Travolta, Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson, Adrien Brody, Nick Nolte, Mickey Rourke and Bill Pullman are just some of the famous faces who make up the compelling cast.

But the real star of this flick is the cinematography. Evocative, breathtaking and painfully poignant it will literally take your breath away.

The long, almost leisurely-paced scenes are spattered by sequences of searing intensity. So even though it has its fair share of violence, it won't appeal to the gung-ho element which only wants guns, guts and gall.

But, as an achingly beautiful character piece, it can't be beaten. By successfully using its many star names as canon fodder - often giving them only one scene each or mere cameo roles - it shows the futility of and finality of war.

Okay, so some of the narrative voiceover flies off with the fairies occasionally, but this bit of arty indulgence is easily excused when looking at what Malick and his talented cast and crew have produced. It makes you feel as empty as war itself but also arouses the senses by bombarding the viewer with some of the most exquisite camerawork ever committed to celluloid.

Miss it and your eyes and ears might never forgive you.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Mellor, Jessica
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 3, 1999
Words:354
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