The cultured teenager

the best of literature, film and music, shown through my rather short-sighted eyes

Tag Archives: Movies

Must-see film #10: Withnail and I

A first glance, a plot synopsis of Withnail and I makes for pretty disappointing viewing, since it can essentially be summarised in a single sentence: in 1969, two unemployed actors (played by Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann) escape the squalor of their Camden flat for a week in the country. Yet to dismiss Withnail’s wafer-thin plot is to miss the point of Bruce Robinson’s brilliant and very British 1987 black comedy. Intelligent, hilarious and surprisingly moving, Withnail and I achieves that rare comedic balance of offering belly laughs whilst remaining clever and biting at the same time.

Three key areas make the film so appealing for me. Simply put, better dialogue than Robinson’s is rarely heard in cinema. Profane, yet darkly witty, Robinson never goes for easy laughs, avoiding pratfalls and silly sight gags (the chicken scene is a notable, and well-executed exception) and simply relying on killer dialogue that encompasses a vast array of styles from the bonkers (” Hairs are your aerials. they pick up signals from the cosmos and transmit them directly to the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight) to the snappy (“We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here and we want them now!”) and ultimately the profound as Monty (Richard Griffiths) confronts his hopeless adoration fro Marwood (McGann) with “I must have you, even if it means burglary”. Even Robinson’s directors notes are suitably biting-“Dostoyevsky described hell as a room with a chair in it. This room contains several chairs.” However, brilliant though the dialogue is, Robinson has found the perfect actors to bring it to life and Grant’s alcoholic, cowardly and bitter Withnail is a truly unique comic creation. McGann, as the comparatively straight and anxious Marwood, makes an effective foil as just about the only sane person in the piece. Meanwhile, the ever-reliable Richard Griffiths avoids making the flamboyantly gay Monty a caricature and instead a genuinely sympathetic and even tragic character. Ralph Brown nearly steals the show as the drugged-out hippy Danny. 

And finally what makes Withnail and I so memorable is the unrelenting squalor of the locations. Robinson draws a lot of black humour from the fact that his Britain is an absolute shit-hole, at the beginning the characters are afraid to do the washing up because “There’s a tea bag growing!” But there is a peculiar kind of poetry to the country locations that create a sense of nostalgia for lost friendships and a bygone Britain at the end of a decade where the nation is uncertain of itself. Witnail and I  remains that rare thing-a comedy of class.


The Amazing Spiderman: Film review

It is clear at the moment that Hollywood has an obsession with bringing back and refreshing franchises; The Dark Knight Rises, the final chapter of Nolan’s Batman reboot, Prometheus brought back the xenomorphs once more, The Bourne Legacy is now trying to somehow maintain a Bourne franchise without Bourne and other remakes and reboots are set to be released in the near future, such as Total Recall, Dredd and Man of Steel. Hollywood could be starting to lose its imagination somewhat and merely resorting to reverting back to the franchises which are assured to bring in the audiences purely to keep money in the industry during this financial hardship. Has Hollywood lost its originality? Considering The Amazing Spiderman, I think it is a confident no. Mark Webb knew from the very moment he announced the new movie that there would be pressure-a-plenty on his shoulders as not only was Sam Raimi’s Spiderman series, well the first two anyway, very successful, but this film comes only 5 years after Peter Parker’s last, and rather disappointing, adventure in the red spandex suit.

Webb has clearly taken the previous Spiderman films on board, however there is clearly no evidence that this is rip-off of Raimi because Webb has intentionally steered away from what made the previous films so recognisable and enjoyable. This doesn’t however mean that this is unlikeable but Webb reaches this from a different angle to his predecessor. Maguire was a really likeable character, a slightly goofy protagonist who you wanted to be victorious as much through pity as anything else; Andrew Garfield is a much cooler, self assured version of Peter Parker whose character is most evident and likeable as half of the relationship between him and the sharp Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Stacy brings another dimension to the film, which had never been brought by a rather inept and passive Mary-Jane, heightened by her Father’s involvement in being the Police Captain on the hunt for Spiderman. Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) has one of the most difficult jobs ever put on the big screen, as not only does he desire to catch our hero, as he swings Tarzan-like through the urban jungle but also has the unenviable task of stopping The Lizard from turning everyone in a 5 mile radius into similar reptilia. Garfield starts this film with a somewhat different origin story to what we have previously seen, this time the focal point being his curiosity about his missing parents, causing the actual arachnid radiation to be a minor part; Personally I feel that the film benefits from this as everyone knows what is going to happen anyway, so it gets deeper into the actual narrative earlier. After finding out a connection between his Father and a certain Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), the Doc in question malfunctions after he splices his own genetics with that of a lizard causing him to rather predictably become The Lizard. Unlike some previous villains, such as Norman Osborn, the Lizard is possibly a step too ridiculous and unrealistic, looking cartoonish, but Rhys Ifans is very good in the role, and the emotional battle between him and Spiderman holds the middle section of the film together.

The Lizard however really comes into his own as a villain in the fight scenes in the latter third of the film, really stressing the value gained from 3D and great special effects. The film is more than just a bit ludicrous in some areas though and a picky man could easily scrutinise how unrealistic most of the film is, such as the incredibly ‘subtle’ plot device of the crane guy and his son, you’ll know what I mean when you watch it, but that really isn’t the point. It’s a superhero film! If it was realistic then the story wouldn’t be entertaining enough to withstand such epic finales as is evident here. The acting is, for the most part, pretty decent, but what is probably best achieved in The Amazing Spiderman is the plausible and intriguing inter-character relationships. One of these is the relationship between Peter and Uncle Ben which I prefer greatly to that of the Raimi version, with Webb cleverly avoiding the “with great power comes great responsibility” speech. However, the most plausible relationship, rather unsurprisingly is between Parker and Stacy, portrayed brilliantly through now real-life couple Garfield and Stone, which glues the entire narrative together.

Ok, there is definitely a special effects frenzy, with camera angle which are purely because they can be done now, rather than because they are better than the previous alternative, and the script is good rather than brilliant, but this is a great summer blockbuster. It is entertaining until the very end and I personally prefer it to Raimi’s version. I have given it a 7 because although it was very enjoyable it wasn’t groundbreaking or likely to be iconic or also technically perfect, but merely enjoyable, but isn’t that the point with a big-budget superhero movie. A good film, but try not to think too hard about it. Regards 🙂 7/10

Prometheus: Film review

Going into this movie, I was rather uncertain of what to expect from Ridley Scott’s new, big-budget, sci-fi film. The reviews I have seen have been completely mixed, some of whom where astounded by its brilliance and some seemed almost devastated with disappointment. The mass marketing and clever virals, particularly one of Michael Fassbender’s David, only heightened my expectations of the movie, which I have anticipated more than any other in 2012.

I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a great film, but more than anything, was a totally encapsulating viewing experience, particularly when watching in 3D Imax, which I would thoroughly recommend. The film is set 3 decades prior to the adventures of Ellen Ripley, in 2093, and despite all the original questions of this film’s relation to Alien it is clear from the very beginning, and far clearer at the very end, that this is a prequel. The range of characters is somewhat similar to those who have previously battled the xenomorphs, particularly the use of another android, David, and Noomi Rapace’s turn as another strong-willed heroine, Scott reflecting some aspects of Weaver’s iconic Ripley. As this team of adventurers embark on a mission to find the origins of the human race they soon find themselves unprepared for what is waiting for them. The opening scene, before our space invaders even appear, is one that immediately shows that Scott is once again willing to take huge risks and obliterate boundaries. It is a visual masterclass, great open shots of harsh, visceral landscapes which are somehow undermined by Scott’s centrepiece, filling the viewer’s mind with question upon question, an alien creature for definite, but not exactly what we had been expecting. After the film finished, I found myself questioning the purpose of this scene, because this alien’s actions were continuously ambiguous, however the impact of this scene is nonetheless magnificent. The 17 man crew’s mission is to find the meaning behind numerous connected etchings from all periods of civilization, headed by Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green), but leads them to a situation compulsory within the Alien franchise, ambling nervously through the labyrinthine surroundings of this far-off planet. As the group becomes periodically smaller and smaller, the plot constantly intensifies, twisting and turning effortlessly until the very end.

The sensationalist nature of the movie is not merely in its breathtaking cinematography, but also through the bold performances. Charlize Theron and Noomi Rapace are perfectly cast, contrasting greatly between Rapace’s steely and determined Shaw and Theron’s sharp, glacial Meredith Vickers. The standout performance, however, is Fassbender’s understated presence as the android David, proving that it isn’t a coincidence that many of the best films of the last couple of years seem to contain his intense performances.

This a utterly spectacular film, yet with a prequel it is impossible to look at it without comparing it to Scott’s previous editions. It is from this perspective that it becomes clear that this movie is still slightly flawed. Rapace, although very good, does not quite reach the legendary status of Sigourney Weaver in the role of Ripley, who is clearly the core of the original films. Alien is more tense and chilling, whereas Aliens provides a rough-and-tumble approach, and although trying to recreate both chilling spectacles and gritty action, Scott has reached a halfway-house, making something more coherent to the expectations of a good, 21st century blockbuster. The use of 3D highlights the visual splendour of the film and the huge grandiose of the special effects, yet this in many ways overshadows parts of the film. This is too active, particularly when compared the stillness which made Alien so frightening. My final verdict is that this a film that can be enjoyed for its spectacular and bold visuals, its perfected performances and clever narrative, however it falls for the same trick as most prequels, in fulfilling the formula as its predecessors, rather than capturing what it was that made Alien original. A great film, but it is best judged as a separate modern film, rather than the prequel it obviously is.

Verdict- 8/10

Must-see film #8: The Shawshank Redemption

I am going to approach this review in a completely unbiased and unprejudiced way; The Shawshank Redemption is my favourite film and I will not hear a word said against it. Yet, what the hell is great about it? It does not equal the cult levels of Star Wars, nor the disturbing intensity of Apocalypse Now. For serious, fact-based drama, Schindler’s List comes out on top, while for sheer zest and playfulness Pulp Fiction reigns supreme. So what is so great about this film, a film that garnered a (relatively) puny $28 million at the US box office and failed to win in any of its seven Oscar nominated categories? Simply put, Frank Darabont’s film goes back to the basics of cinema in breath-taking fashion. If you give great actors a great script and great direction, then you get a great film. Simple.

In 1947, banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is wrongly accused of murdering his wife and sentenced to life imprisonment in Shawshank State Prison. Vulnerable to all of the horrors of prison life, his position initially seems unbearable; beatings, rape and above all hopelessness constitute the daily routine. “They send you here for life” comments Red (Morgan Freeman) “That’s exactly what they take“. But through his friendship with Red and his steady determination, Andy maintains his dignity and courage to rise above the degradation of his surroundings and find, ultimately, redemption. This is a conclusion the film does not easily reach, with cruelty piling on cruelty, and the film’s uplifting conclusion comes as a relief, serving as a testament to the indomitable human spirit, as well as being a real tear jerker. Andy is not superhuman but an ordinary man who found within himself unexpected depths and the spark of hope that could not be dimmed. Darabont executes his story in brilliant fashion. The dialogue is outstanding, raging from the brilliantly profane-“You fat barrel of monkey spunk!” to the simply iconic- “ I guess it boils down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying”. The Gothic setting of the prison augments the bleakness of Andy’s situation and serves as an effective metaphor for people who allow themselves to be trapped in their own minds and do not achieve their full potential. And don’t get me started on the performances. Robbins’ delivers a masterclass in quiet dignity, whilst Freeman’s turn as Red is surely the defining role of his career. And let’s not neglect the outstanding supporting cast. Clancy Brown excels as the brutish Captain Hadley, James Whitmore is heart-breaking as the tragic Brooks (the scene where he carves his name above the stair rail before hanging himself is one of the most poignant I have ever seen watching films), whilst Bob Gunton as the icy, hypocritical Warden Norton is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated villains in movie history. That’s the secret of Shawshank. No parlour tricks. No fancy pop soundtrack. Just a brilliant testimony to the human spirit that many films try to emulate but few can match. The Shawshank Redemption is the best movie ever. F*** off. Will Hunter

Ok, I completely get Will’s point and no sane person could possibly argue against the fact it is an outstanding film, but the best film ever? I say no, not that I would find it easy to pick out another movie as being the best movie ever. Part of my argument against The Shawshank Redemption is just that in labeling one film as being better than all other films, what is the criteria that one has created in order to prove what makes a film the best ever made? Is the best film ever a film where every aspect is done as high a standard as possible, i.e. Shawshank, or is it a film which is far more artistic or, as the purpose of films is this, is far more entertaining and consuming. I personally would argue, that although it is a great film, with a change in director and everything kept the same, or a change in an actor, the film could be just as good, and if not, better. It is hence far easier to argue that maybe it has the best script, but it isn’t quite a perfect film, or has some great performances, but it isn’t alone in containing these factors. If I had to pick an alternative best film ever, my choice would be Pulp Fiction; I feel the narrative itself is just as clever, the script I would argue is better, though clearly of two styles difficult to compare, and, similarly, the acting is second to none. I have to say though, what I feel edges it over Shawshank was the viewing experience. I was impressed and moved by Shawshank but Pulp Fiction was one of the few films where I go, WOAH! How the f*** did someone make that?! Shawshank is perfect execution whereas Pulp Fiction is an unrivaled example of creativity, making it a film that could never be made again, or anything half as good a standard as Tarantino’s masterpiece. The characters have a brilliant realism and humanity in the most unlikely setting, as Tarantino is mocking the genre of Pulp Fiction, a genre in which realism, humanity and good acting, a far harder to achieve, than in a drama of the ilk of Shawshank. However, before I write a Pulp Fiction review, I better get back to the original topic. The Shawshank Redemption is one of the best films ever made, and would easily make my top 10, it’s brilliance lies in the emotional turmoil and emotional sincerity of the characters, particularly Andy Dufresne and Brooks Hatlen, and the superb acting which contributes to this. It is slow and ponderous but this gives a significant realism to the narrative, making the characters, not only believable, but also far easier characters to relate to and sympathise with than the ruffians more conventional in prison dramas. The film has innumerate undertones, many of which are interwoven, both subtle and integral to the tone of the film, such as incredibly clever word choice, for example, where the Warden holds a Bible, stating that “Salvation lies within”. One which many can morally sympathise with, but is utterly integral to Dufresne’s story. A truly brilliant film. Not the greatest, but great nonetheless. Henry Saker-Clark

Must-see film #7:Once Upon a Time in America

Unquestionably one of the most epic and powerful gangster movies ever made, Once Upon a Time in America stands proudly alongside The Godfather and Goodfellas at the forefront of the genre. But whilst The Godfather is a calculating study of the corrupting effects of power and Goodfellas provided an insight into the rough-and-tumble of mafia life, Sergio Leone’s masterpiece is something else; an epic account of the lives of two friends, played by Robert De Niro and James Woods, who happen to be gangsters.

Noodles (De Niro) is an ageing Jewish mobster who, lured by an anonymous invitation, returns to Manhattan where a botched robbery resulted in the deaths of his gang over thirty years ago. Who has sent this message and why? It is a mystery Leone proceeds to investigate, charting Noodles’ rise from ghetto kid to mafia kingpin right up to the ambiguous finale and in particular Noodles’ relationship with his partner and childhood friend Max (Woods). The story of the two men’s relationships, and the love, lust, greed, betrayal and revenge that surrounds it has the same qualities as the best of opera and ancient myth in its epic portrayal of status and human emotion. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a sentimental story. The characters, although fascinating, are not exactly likeable, possessing dangerous, sociopathic qualities. Yet what sets Noodles and Max apart is their mutual need for each other. Leone’s locations are wonderfully atmospheric, switching between the bleak inner-city ghettos that are the childhood location and the glitzy high society that symbolises fulfillment of the American Dream. The 1920s details and costumes are all impeccable, whilst Ennio Morricone’s score (arguably the greatest film composer of all time) is wonderfully apt, perfectly capturing the operatic tone of the film. As for the performances, De Niro delivers a beautifully nuanced performance as Noodles, a man seemingly unable to forget his past, whilst Woods, whose appearances on Family Guy often overshadow the fact that he is a fine actor, is outstanding as the intense and sociopathic Max. In my opinion Sergio Leone’s finest film, Once Upon a Time in America is a fitting epitaph to one of the all-time great directors. A saga of truly epic proportions.

Must-See Film #5: The Elephant Man

A great man once said, “hey mate, I saw The Elephant Man and wrote a review of it if you still, like, write about those in your bloggy thing”. This great man, isn’t exactly a great man but a pathetic-ish teenager called William, who happens to be pretty good at the writing malarkey and has a pretty decent taste in films. So this is his opinion on a film I have been craving to see for ages and his review leaves me yearning even more. So here you go…

Of all the recorded cases of physical afflictions, few are as tragic or as poignant as that of Joseph (often called John) Merrick, known as “The Elephant Man”. Born with an assortment of horrific deformities and exhibited as a human curiosity in Victorian London, David Lynch’s magnificent drama from 1980 explores the friendship between Merrick (played by John Hurt) and Frederick Treves ( Anthony Hopkins), the surgeon who found the man beneath the vile perversion of Merrick’s form. 

Shot hauntingly in black and white, Lynch’s cinematography brilliantly invokes the two sides of Victorian London; the squalor and filth of the slums and the pristinely cleaned homes of the upper classes. The efforts gone to recreate Merrick’s appearance are astounding; Chris Tucker’s makeup was so convincing that the Academy was obliged to create a new Best Makeup category. But awards and camera tricks should never distract from the human drama and Lynch handles his material admirably. Slowly, we watch as Treves taps away at Merrick’s nervous and damaged psyche to reveal a sensitive, intelligent and articulate individual. In the wrong hands this could have made for dreadful, cloying viewing; instead it is immensely rewarding and moving, serving as a testimony to human dignity and courage. Hopkins delivers a fine performance as Treves but real acting plaudits go to John Hurt as Merrick. To be able to communicate at all from beneath that heavy mask is a considerable feat. To deliver such a beautifully nuanced performance is the mark of an exceptional actor. Hurt never stops communicating, brilliantly conveying with childlike wonder Merrick’s gain of self-confidence and self-worth, and fully meriting his Oscar nomination (one of eight for the film). This is best captured in a classic scene, where Merrick, hounded by an angry mob outside a train station, cries out “I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I…am …a man!

The Elephant Man has a couple of obvious flaws, lapsing occasionally into sentimentality and clumsily handling London’s class divide, but its overall message-that we should never judge by appearances-remains relevant. And if you don’t have a lump in your throat by the end, you haven’t got a heart.

Thanks Will Hunter, for making me still crave to watch this British classic. Regards 🙂

Must-see film #4: Moon

Usually in Sci-Fi films, whether it be J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, Star Wars or Avatar, outer-space looks like a hive of activity, exoticism and extremities. This high-octane grandiose is completely incomparable to the bleak claustrophobia which Moon seems to brilliantly capture, becoming an emotional spectacle rather than a lavish, big-budget blockbuster. Not only is this far more minimalistic than the average Sci-Fi film, but equally it is at times a dark, one-person drama constantly questioning humanity within the complex futuristic scenario, presenting an image of both space and Earth that is harrowing and wretched.

Duncan Jones (offspring of David Bowie) has used a minimal $5 million budget in creating his first feature, and I think that this is incredibly beneficial to the tone of the film. After an introductory advertisement to explain to the audience Earth’s fuel problems and how these have subsequently been solved through the conversion of fuel through an omnipresent source within lunar soil, we meet Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell). Indeed, we see him in numerous situations, in numerous different examples of his loneliness, jogging, looking after his plants etc., from the first instance Jones has therefore emphasized how remote his existence on the moon has become. He is an extractor of this resource working for the company advertised, but Jones shows this as space-age capitalism, and the exploitation of Sam questions the benefits which would be gained by human inhabitance in outer space. Although Bell is remote in the greatest sense, he does have a companion called Gerty, a robot with the lucid, sardonic tone of Kevin Spacey. Gerty is however aware of the plight which has occurred and will happen to Sam Bell, and without giving too much away, highlights the sad reality of the situation as humans become as valuable, and replaceable, as machines.

Moon is an example of brilliance from many perspectives. Duncan Jones has built a plot which stands it out from any big-budget Starship Troopers schmulz and achieves a feat rarely seen in the science fiction genre; getting the audience emotionally involved within the story, but also gaining an attachment to Bell. Much of this is down to Rockwell’s brilliant performance, successfully pulling off the incredible difficulty of being a one-person cast. For all its brilliance though, the film doesn’t quite gain an inherent depth, atmospherically and philosophically, which may have been limited by its small budget and cold, utilitarian message. All in all, I highly recommend Moon, partly because it’s unlike any other film I’ve seen and this peculiarity left me more intrigued than I would have ever expected from a Sci-Fi film, if not astounded.

The Illusionist (2006)

I can’t exactly call this the best film I’ve ever watched, but it wasn’t as bad I thought it would be. The acting was better average and by the end I even quite liked a couple of the characters, being Rufus Sewell’s moustached Prince and Paul Giamatti as a rather unconvincing Viennese inspector.

This film is based on a short story; “Eisenheim the Illusionist” by Stephen Millhauser, with Edward Norton here playing the mysterious illusionist. Although his illusions are somewhat dazzling, unpredictable and unexplainable, this is a complete contrast to the rather predictable throw-away plot, not that this makes the film bad. Although what happens is quite predictable, neither, many of the events, nor Eisenheim’s mastery of illusion are explainable, keeping enough mystery to keep the audience watching, as Neil Burger successful reveals just enough details to keep things interesting.

The film starts with two overwhelming cliches, starting with Eisenheim as a child where he stumbles across a traveling magician and from then on is enthralled by magic, and cliche #2, he falls in love with a wealthy aristocrat’s daughter, Sophie (Jessica Biel), but he is forbidden from seeing her again (as I said, its pretty predictable and easy to follow). Guess what happens? Shock horror, 15 years later during a performance he comes across her again and their emotions are rekindled, however she is married to heir to the throne. Running along side this forbidden love story is the side story of Inspector Uhl’s attempts to explain not only the secrets to Eisenheim’s illusions but also to search, on behalf of the Crown Prince (a very well cast Rufus Sewell) into Eisenheim and Sophie’s connection.

Norton and Giamatti were the two star turns from the good cast, with all other key characters being acted out solidly by Biel, Sewell and Eddie Marsan. This was a lot better than I expected, it wasn’t an Oscar-winning masterpiece but it was far better than most popcorn accompaniments.

The Thin Red Line

It might surprise you that I have a friend. Yes, one, whole, solitary, similarly nerdy friend who goes by the name of Will (Will Hunter to be precise). As he is similarly nerdy and skilled at writing he also writes the odd review for me here and there, usually being films, and this is the first of his reviews. He’s slightly sadistic, pretty clever and a tad pompous, and watches quite alot of films, and is particularly a fan of war films, one of which being The Thin Red Line by Terrence Malick; please enjoy his review.

Comparisons between Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line are as inevitable as they are fascinating. Both were big budget war epics released in 1998. Both centred on US soldiers during the Second World War. However, here the resemblance ends. Saving Private Ryan focuses on the D Day landings; The Thin Red Line is set during the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific. Saving Private Ryan was the highest grossing American motion picture of 1998; The Thin Red Line a box office flop. Spielberg’s picture left audiences shaken to the core; Malick’s film left audiences confused and bewildered.

Yet for me, The Thin Red Line is unquestionably the better film. With an impressive ensemble cast which includes a mix of experienced players (Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson), then up-and-coming actors (Jim Caviezel, Adrien Brody, Ben Chaplin) and a couple of star cameos ( George Clooney and John Travolta), Malick has created something more than your average blood-and-guts war movie: an other-worldly epic of pure visual poetry. The battle scenes are thrillingly staged- the scene in which Welsh (Penn) administers morphine to a dying young soldier is astonishingly powerful- but Malick’s concern is with the man-versus-nature theme which drives the film. Malick’s cameras focus on the burning tropical jungle; a baby bird which is blown from its nest by an explosion. In contrasting between the gorgeous natural landscape and the horrors of the battlefield, Malick seems to be saying: why does humanity insist on destroying this creation it has been given? Why it is that evil seeps even into this tropical paradise? Through his characters lyrical voiceovers and against the backdrop of Hans Zimmer’s exquisitely fitting score, Malick paints a picture of a heaven and a hell on earth, a world in which all a man can do is shut himself down and find his own meaning to the carnage. It is uplifting and nihilistic, beautiful and ugly in turns. The final scene captures the spirit of the film perfectly: a final haunting image of Guadalcanal accompanied by the following voiceover: “Oh my soul. Let me be in you now. Look out through my eyes. Look out at the things you made. All things shining”.

The Thin Red Line is not the best war movie ever made and the film’s length and plodding nature will mean that it is not to everyone’s taste but if art and poetry can ever be put on screen, this film surely achieves it.

Will Hunter

I hope you find that as interesting and thought-provoking as I did when first reading it, and go out and watch it. Regards 🙂