Berlinale: Programme


Film file

Retrospective

The Thin Red Line

Der schmale Grat

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The Solomon Islands in 1942 – a South Sea paradies. Private Witt has gone AWOL in order to live among the indigenous population. It seems as if nothing will ever disrupt this peaceful world until, one day, an American warship appears on the horizon. After waiting in suspense on board ship for quite a long time, Brigadier General Quintard gives the order to take the strategically important Island of Guadalcanal, which is occupied by the Japanese. The assault is lead by Gordon Tall, a colonel who is as ambitious as he is stubborn, and whose only worry is that his battalion might be ordered back home before his active service ends. After arriving on land without encountering enemy resistance, they soon become embroiled in a bitter struggle for “Hill 210” and incur heavy losses.

Captain Staros leads rifle company “C-for-Charlie” with a great sense of responsibility for his men. When his superior gives the command to storm the hill despite the huge number of men already lost, Staros refuses to carry it out. At this, Captain Gaff leads a suicide commando of seven volunteers, who manage to blow up the Japanese bunker on their own. Gaff, however, also clashes with Tall when the latter orders Gaff and his men to press forward – even though they have barely any drinking water left. […]

There are no heroes in this film. Instead, it narrates the stories of about a dozen soldiers. Their off-screen thoughts, fears and memories provide a kaleidoscopic insight into the men’s feelings and experiences during the military operation.

A vivid, poetical meditation on the beauty of nature, the cruelty and futility of war, and on the comradeship of the soldiers and their willingness to make sacrifices.



Translated from: Dokumentation der 49. Internationalen Filmfestspiele Berlin 1999

USA 1997/98, 170 min

by

Terrence Malick

with

Sean Penn
Adrien Brody
James Caviezel
George Clooney