Official Artist
Dax Phelan
Director , Producer , Screenwriter
361,179 views| 568  Posts

Revisiting "The Thin Red Line"

In 1998, after a 20-year absence, Terrence Malick, the legendary director of “Badlands” and “Days of Heaven,” returned to filmmaking with “The Thin Red Line.”  To this day, the film has a polarizing effect on its viewers – you either love it or you hate it.  Personally, I loved it.  In fact, I would argue that “The Thin Red Line” is a perfect film, in the sense that it works completely on its own terms.  Suffice it to say, the film is not your typical Hollywood war film.  Rather, it is anything but.  From a technical standpoint, it does everything “wrong.”  It features multiple voice-overs by multiple characters…it features multiple points-of-view…it’s full of flashbacks…In short, it does everything that film school tells you not to do.  And, yet, it works completely, beautifully, and, dare I say, poetically.  In retrospect, I’m not sure if I fell in love with the film when I first saw it in the theater or, a year earlier, when I was reading reports from the set.  According to one such report, Malick's unconventional filming techniques included shooting part of a scene during a bright, sunny morning only to finish it weeks later at sunset. He would make a habit of pointing the camera away during an action sequence and focus on a parrot, a tree branch or other fauna.  And, when his tireless pursuit of photographing rare flora and fauna threatened to make the film run over schedule, he would simply throw away scenes from his own scrīpt.  That Malick had the sheer will to do that…I can’t imagine it.  If any of you are interested in reading about the fascinating history behind this film, you can do so at:


In any event, you can watch the first ten minutes of the film below, courtesy of Youtube.  I hope you enjoy the opening as much as me and I hope it inspires you to watch the film in its entirety. 


Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPDL7KvDiIo

about 12 years ago 0 likes  9 comments  0 shares
Photo 23627
did we talk about this film? so funny cuz i was just telling my editor friend yesterday about the opening of this film... one of my favorite openings of all times (along with "Tokyo Stories," HHH's "Flower of Shanghai" and Jacques Audiard's "Sur Mes Lèvres"!) it's a perfect opening that defines this film as a masterpiece i think... i also think that the opening of Tsui Hark's "Seven Sword" might have been inspired by this! how are you?
about 12 years ago
Photo 23632
i've never seen this - despite always meaning to. with ur comment, now i gotta see it...
about 12 years ago
Default avatar
I've never seen The Thin Red Line, to tell you the truth it was never a film I considered which is strange cause I really enjoy war movies with a moral story and different points of view such as The 'Wild Geese' and 'Taegukgi'. I've just seen the opening sequence you have shared and read more about it, the story is completely different to how I imagined it, I shall have to see it in its entirety.
about 12 years ago
Photo 23902
One of the reasons I like Malick is his attention the environment. So much is said by the wind through the trees and the insects gathering at some point in the people's lives, and that speaks volumes about the world and people in it. He was a philosophy major before he became a director though I can't identify how the philosophers he studied has influenced his work (Heidegger, anyone?) I"m a huge, huge fan of Badlands and Days of Heaven. I want to see Thin Red Line again but when I first watched it I wasn't that keen on the event of war... maybe now... the Pocahontas film was worth watching, to me, mostly because of the strange feeling you get at the end when she walks into whatever impt. British building that is at the end (the Palace) and for the first time (for me) you feel you have witnessed the most vast contrast in these two incredibly different cultures.
about 12 years ago
Jasontobin 82 jasontobin
This is one of my most favourite films.
about 12 years ago
Stephen 93 stephen
I saw it at the first morning showing at the Westwood Fox Theater... And I've gotta say -- nobody shoots GRASS like Malick... haha... Actually, while I like this movie alot, I still prefer "Days of Heaven" and "Badlands" more... and that's saying ALOT cuz I freakin' dislike Richard Gere.
about 12 years ago
Photo 23166
Dude have u seen "The Thin Blue Line" ? It was a documentary on these two guys, one was in jail, the other was still roaming the streets, and it is about the whole case about these two guys and who was actually innocent and who wasn't. And the guy taht was in jail was completely innocent, and you could tell because "he was completely on track with all his facts." [ i said that in class woo!! ] and so he's in jail, and then they do this whole documentary thing on it, and then the guy taht was roaming free, who actually committed the murder of killing a police officer, in the end gets put in jail and sentenced to death row. He dies muahaha. Anyway, the documentary saved the innocent mans life, because he was gonna get killed, but because the documentary reopend the case, they were able to free him!! Good huh? and then one of the other groups in another class did something veryy similar, as their documentary. It was actually really good. They called it the Thin Blue Foam, where this frizbee thingy gets stolen at lunch time, and they copy the film exactly!!! It was great! Anyway, the title of this film reminded me of those two films i watched in class, although this is on a completely different topic. If you're into documentaries, check out The Thin Blue Line!!! If i get a chance, ill try to find this doc, and watch this as well!!!!
about 12 years ago
Photo 30987
do you wonder what we'd do without youtube? How would i watch clips of movies or inanely genius japanese games show hosts snort wasabi up their nose?
about 12 years ago
Photo 49253
i watched it several years ago in my university theater,i cann't remember it clearly /my impression of it is i like it although it is a man movie.i will watch it again one day.
about 12 years ago


\"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.\" -Henry David Thoreau \"The harder I work, the luckie

Learn More

Languages Spoken
Location (City, Country)
Los Angeles, United States
Member Since
June 22, 2007

Dax Phelan on Social Media