Red Line Terrence Malick's the Thin Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1329 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Film

¶ … Red Line

Terrence Malick's the Thin Red Line has been hailed as a masterpiece by critics around the world. By using the analytical skills I have learned, watching the movie becomes a real enjoyment. This paper will examine the film and its diverse elements, from its non-traditional use of narrative and voice over to its reliance on natural lighting, acting, editing, and camera shots to convey a realistic war time environment coupled with a spiritual aesthetic.

A recurring motif in the Thin Red Line is the use of light pouring (or filtering) through the holes of a leaf or the wooded canopy overhead. The symbolic imagery is used to evoke a sense of the otherworldly when one of the soldiers in the film is about to die -- his gaze is directed upward. The Thin Red Line is, in fact, a kind of meditation on death. It begins with Private Witt wondering if he can meet death with the same sense of calm he has seen in others. He is given a sense of that calm when he takes refuge in the island village at the outset of the film. The leitmotif that follows Witt throughout the film is the singing of the Melanesian choir in that village: "Jesus, Yu Holem Hand Blong Mi" and "God, Yu Tekken Laef Blong Mi." Both are spiritual hymnals that call on divine assistance. Both, in fact, foreshadow Private Witt's sacrifice at the end of the movie and his spiritual salvation: he gives his life to save Charlie Company and in turn is returned to the island paradise he tries to inhabit at the beginning of the film -- a place of calm and rest, characterized by Gabriel Faure's in Paradisium from his Requiem.Download full
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Red Line Terrence Malick's the Thin Red Assignment

Malick makes use of many non-diegetic inserts throughout the Thin Red Line. By tilting his camera shots upward, he shows the tops of trees, animals such as bats or lizards in the trees, birds in the sky, the clouds, the moon, light descending through foliage, coconuts lumped together in a tree, the palms of palm trees, the shooting down of same leaves, etc. He also inserts shots of a wounded bird in the middle of a battle sequence. He shows a snake confronting a soldier crouching down in the grass. He shows a soldier touching the leaves of a small flower and watching them close. He shows a hen with its chicks when Private Witt speaks internally of family. Such images bring to the attention of the viewer the physical and spiritual conflict of the film.

By making masterful use of steady-cam shots, Malick brings a stillness to the film that the shakiness of Saving Private Ryan lacks. While Spielberg effected a sense of brutality with his images, Malick is concerned with beauty even in the midst of war. For Malick, the war is greater than the battle waged on Guadalcanal. It stretches above and beyond the island. It is waged in the loneliness of the wife left at home. It is waged in the hearts and minds of its commanders behind the lines and its fallen soldiers who speak from the other side of the grave: "Are you righteous, kind? Know that I was too. Do you imagine your sufferings will be less because you loved goodness, truth?" asks a dead Japanese soldier when the camera holds on his face (the rest of him being buried underneath the earth from the force of an explosion).

But then such is possible because Malick explores new techniques in narrative. Rather than stick with one story or one character, he allows the viewer to hear the inner monologues of many characters as though they were all united seamlessly in the same monologue. Each one delivers voice over of his own personal reflections, yet every reflection is a portrait of the human soul of Everyman. Some come to a greater understanding of their role in life than others. But the narrative as a whole is… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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