Most war movies encapsulate run-of-the-mill plot lines and human trivialities, but The Thin Red Line departs from the bleak and overly commercialized blockbusters that most film-makers produce these days. The movie is less of a story about World War II and more of a Freudian analysis of conflict in general. In the movie, many soldiers struggle to face the bombs and explosions raining upon them. Some men spit with rage and throw temper tantrums while other men forget who they are. On the other hand, there are a few men who are loosely tethered - yet sensitive - to the events around them; they may be scared, confused, angry, or entirely indifferent to the noise around them, but they have an unshakable grasp of their surroundings. This small demographic is one of those psyches explored in the movie, but it is the most focal group.
The movie follows the intermittent musings of a calm and deliberate man aptly named Private Witt. As he traverses brush and jungle foliage, he vaguely relates prior experiences to the events he experiences on Guadalcanal. Other soldiers share similar reminiscent instances throughout the movie as the Americans push against the entrenched Japanese forces. Each soldier's recollection offers a meaningful examination of war and humanity. The memories and revelations do not add anything particularly truthful to the actual events at Guadalcanal or even anything universally truthful (depending on one's point of view, to be sure). However, the stories are incredibly insightful and engaging for a war movie. The acting is believable, captivating, and inspiring. The movie also features a long list of great actors, including, (to name a few), Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, John Reilly, Nick Nolte, Miranda Otto, Woody Harrelson, John Travolta, and George Clooney.
There are other WWII / war related movies I enjoy, but The Thin Red Line is the most substantive and compelling war movie I've ever seen. If you want to watch something that can transport you between a battlefield and a calm ocean-front beach, this is the movie for you.