The Thin Red Line

John Dee Smith (which sounds like a pseudonym if there ever was one) has some of the best monologues in Terrence Malick’s 1998 war drama The Thin Red Line, but he is a virtual nonentity on the web. He doesn’t even have a picture on IMDb. These tumblr images are pretty much all I could find:

Anyway, you should check out the movie. It’s one of the better two hours and fifty minutes  in recent memory that I’ve spent sitting on a couch. Maybe my couch time is just that boring. Maybe. But I would suggest that what that actually means is that this movie is really good.

It’s a story about God and man, suffering and evil, love and mortality, etc. So very light stuff. Popcorn for the soul…

Heh. Joke!

Though it is set in a time of war (the Battle of Guadalcanal frames the external plot), The Thin Red Line is not a “war movie.” This review is as good a one as you’re likely to find, so if you’re the type who likes to read a good review before taking a film recommendation (especially when the film is 2:50 long), by all means read it. I especially appreciated this line from the reviewer, which is a caveat I, too, would give:

Not everybody will enjoy The Thin Red Line. Whenever any film tries to be at least somewhat intellectual, a band of cynics will pop out of their hiding place in the rainforest and call it pretentious. It’s not a simple movie. If you don’t particularly enjoy thinking, go watch another war movie, where you’ll see more blowing up and dead guys.

A final aside: I first came to be interested in this film because of Explosions in the Sky’s instrumental overlay of Pvt. Train’s monologue — arguably the best monologue from the film. Here’s audio-only video clip of the track. The text of the voice-sample is below.

This great evil — where’s it come from?
How’d it steal into the world?
What seed, what root did it grow from?
Who’s doing this?
Who’s killing us?
Robbing us of life and light,
Mocking us with the sight of what we might have known?
Does our ruin benefit the earth?
Does it help the grass to grow and the sun to shine?
Is this darkness in you too?
Have you passed through this night?


One Comment

  1. I saw this movie once, and I remember thinking it was good, but I remember almost nothing that happened in it. It didn’t make much of an impression, for some reason. I like the monologue, though.

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