Thin Red Line, The
This meditative, beautiful, haunting star-studded war film was reclusive director Terrence Malick's first film in twenty years.
It resists a traditional plot, instead following various soldiers fighting in the battle of Guadalcanal during World War II.
Malick paints an ambiguous, but absorbing portrait populated by young lives torn apart by the apparently inevitable human conflict that is war.
The director garnered much acclaim for his 1973 Martin Sheen/Sissy Spacek film Badlands, but abandoned Hollywood after his follow-up, 1978's Days of Heaven.
News of his return to filmmaking attracted numerous major Hollywood actors to The Thin Red Line. Watch out for John Travolta, Woody Harrelson, George Clooney, John Cusack, Nick Nolte and John C. Reilly.
The closest thing the film has to a main character is the wistful Private Witt, played by Jim Caviezel (Jesus in The Passion of the Christ) in his first major role. Witt's calm incomprehension of the war seems to embody Malick's themes. Sean Penn and Ben Chaplin also stand out as Sergeant Walsh and Private Bell.
Malick shot over a million feet of film, and appeared to construct the film in the editing room. Apparently, during shooting, Adrien Brody's Corporal Fife was perceived to be the main character, but he's barely in the finished film. But don't feel too bad for him - his Best Actor Oscar win last year for The Pianist would've softened the blow.
Malick is taking such a long break before his next film - he's currently prepping The New World and historical drama about 17th century explorer John Smith (Colin Farrell) and the clashes between the British and the Native Americans.
The Thin Red Line is the second film (the first was filmed in 1964) based on the book by James Jones who also wrote From Here To Eternity.