07 October 2011

The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red Line is at its core a war movie. But the director chose to make it so much more than that. After watching this film, I have a deep sadness in my heart, for these men who have had to participate in war. The emotions and struggles that as humans these men endure, completely breaks the pre conceived notions that many viewers bring to war. The director without a doubt does this on purpose, using a wonderful mix of cinematography and audio, chaos as a constant theme, and emotional scenes to show that these men have lost their emotion.
This movie differs a lot from the typical war movie like Black Hawk Down and Saving Private Ryan. This movie is a lot more artsy in its approach, and this makes for a completely different experience. One way this is done is through the wonderful cinematography the director uses tied in with beautiful voice overs. Through out the movie, we see a scene that in its self is emotionally charged. But then they add a voice over to the scene (which changes between a few of the characters) which completely changes how we view the scene. These voice overs are these beautifully poetic words that talk about the origins of love, hate, and war. When one goes to see a war movie, they are usually going to see all the action and explosions. We don't expect to be hit with questions like those of the origins of hate. But these are presented to the viewer through these voice overs while showing the beat down and tired men. One of the most impactful scenes in this movie is the bayonet charge performed on a Japanese compound. The men charge through fog into a encampment of Japanese men. Both sides know the other will be ready, but both must continue on. The men charge and bullets and stabbing ensue. The men are full out sprinting through this compound, shooting anything and being shot it. There is death and destruction everywhere. After the battle is finished, and casualties are being taken, a voiceover comes in. The man talks about the origin of hate, and where it came from. (This part is actually used in a Explosions in the Sky song) Its beautiful and poetic and just perfectly matches the scenes of men in despair and sheer terror at what has just happened. It seems they do not even know how to comprehend it. This voiceover provides such a profound emotional experience on top of the one we have already witnessed. I feel as if the director want sot make the point that war is so much more then just men taking lives. These men are deeply troubled by what they do and see. Why does hate even exist? This wonderful scene leads me into my next point, which is the chaos that seems to be a constant theme through out the film.
The scene that I just described could probably define the word chaos. This is not some well orchestrated attack where everyone moves in at different directions and the enemy has no idea what is happening. It is just a full out charge. The men are running through huts shooting while the Japanese are defending themselves. They are hiding everywhere and the American forces are blowing through like nothing is there. One guy gets shot, they shoot the guy that shot the previous guy, and keep on moving. The Japanese, some without weapons lay on top of their injured soldiers, protecting them. One guy is even sitting cross legged praying with his eyes closed. Mean while, the Americans are charging by and shooting everything around him. Nothing makes sense. It is pure chaos. We also see this same theme running through the way the film is edited. They might flash three shots very fast. You see a man throw a grenade into a hole, it cuts to a Japanese face looking up for only two seconds, and then we see an explosion. This type of editing gives you and unsure feeling about what you just saw. Was that guy in the the hole? I mean I think he was, but it was so quick. These type of thoughts seem to permeate the feeling that the soldiers most likely are experiencing, and that is a complete moral ambiguity. They aren't even sure what to feel. Is this wrong or right what I have just done? This really helps to deliver the movie home, and the chaos constantly keeps the viewers attention in the movie.
The last thing I want to hit on is the emotion this movie brings. Every scene is designed to bring a specific emotional response that the director wants. When the movie opens, we see one of the main characters named Witt playing and interacting with some natives on a Island. We have no idea why he is there, but you can tell without a doubt that he is happy and content there. He doesn't speak much, but always has a smile on his face. This man is full of emotion and you can see the happiness bouncing off his face. As the movie goes on, we see not only him, but the rest of the squad start to change. When they enter the island, they are young, nervous, excited and fearful all in one. No one knows what to expect. Then they experience battle, and death, and blood. The idea of death is not so foreign anymore, its happening all around them. As the battles continue to rage, the men are not as scared. They don't duck at every little noise, and their eyes aren't as wide. Death is starting to settle in, and with that acceptance of death comes a suppressing of emotions. You do not listen to your emotions anymore, you simply react and do what you have to do. Reason is the guide and pushes the man forward. These scenes that are charged with emotions really do a great job of showing how the characters slowly are loosing theirs. The audience reacts a certain way, while the characters hardly even react at all. The soldiers have gone through hell, and that has taken a toll on them physically as well as mentally.
Overall this film was great, and I really enjoyed watching it. I highly enjoyed all the elements this movie had to offer and It really comes together to bring wonderful film to the masses.

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