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THE THIN RED LINE ($30) is a stirring and oftentimes beautiful movie that shows the horrors of war and how the fighting men deal with it. Set in the Pacific during World War II, THE THIN RED LINE is very effective in contrasting the tranquility on an unspoiled landscape, with the onslaught of man, machinery and weapons. Within its fluid and almost poetic imagery, THE THIN RED LINE tells its battle line story from several different viewpoints. The movie relies heavily on voiceovers and flashbacks to show inner workings of its characters, with some trying to deal with the war by escaping into their memories of home and family, while others fantasize about the peaceful beauty that exists outside of the war. This internalization gives THE THIN RED LINE a deep and dreamlike quality, which one would not typically find in a war movie.

Since THE THIN RED LINE tells its story from a number of viewpoints, the movie doesn't have a definitive star, but instead relies on a terrific ensemble cast. Sean Penn delivers a truly standout performance as the experienced sergeant who understands the war and the men fighting under him better than the commanding officers. Elias Koteas is perfectly cast as the compassionate captain, who is unwilling to let his men be needlessly slaughtered. Nick Nolte is truly impressive as the film's most unlikable character, a commanding officer, who hopes to jumpstart his undistinguished career by winning an important battle regardless of the cost in human life. Jim Caviezel and Ben Chaplin give the film's most affecting performances as two soldiers who have escaped from the war in different ways, but are then forced to deal with its harsh realities. The outstanding cast of THE THIN RED LINE also features George Clooney, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Jared Leto, John C. Reilly, John Savage and John Travolta.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has done a truly spectacular job with their second DVD release of THE THIN RED LINE. Although the first DVD was presented in anamorphic enhanced wide screen, the new DVD has only been upgraded in the audio department to incorporate a DTS soundtrack. The 16:9 enhanced image on the DVD is framed at 2.35:1 and is truly a magnificent site to behold. Every subtle nuance on the image is clearly visible, making the sharp, highly defined transfer demonstration quality. Colors are generally quite realistic, with the lush greens of the jungle vegetation appearing completely convincing. Blood reds can be intense, but for the most part, none of the hues appear over saturated. There is no chroma noise, nor do the stronger colors bleed beyond their boundaries. Blacks are solid and inky, plus the picture provides smooth contrast and excellent shadow detail. Efficient dual layer authoring prevents any visible signs of digital compression artifacts from marring this exemplary presentation.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is one of the best tracks that I have ever encountered. There are plenty of showy moments during the battle scenes, in which the track comes to explosive life, but this isn't what impressed me about the DVD's audio. What I found aurally pleasing, were the subtleties of the sound mix, as well as the spaciousness of the entire 360-degree soundstage. There is an open, effortless quality about the soundtrack that is difficult to describe, other than to say that the film's quiet moments are enveloping, engaging and convincingly real. In the combat, mode the mix is fully directional with aggressive deployment of the split surround channels. Dialogue is reproduced with a natural timbre and every utterance remains fully intelligible. The bass channel is full and powerful, which gives in you face realism to weapon's fire and explosions. Hans Zimmer's has composed a wonderfully stirring score that is mixed into the soundtrack to maintain its full musical integrity. As good as the Dolby Digital track is, the 5.1 channel DTS soundtrack adds another dimension of warmth and richness to the film's sound effects, to the bass channel, and especially to Hans Zimmer's music. While DTS does have a sonic edge here, viewers shouldn't feel shortchanged if their system only offers Dolby Digital compatibility. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as English and Spanish subtitles.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features. Due the film's hefty 170 minute running time and the inclusion of a DTS soundtrack, the DVD offers no extras.

I found THE THIN RED LINE to be an incredible motion picture experience, with a tremendous DVD presentation. Even if you have only a passing interest in this film, you would do well to seek out this DVD and make it part of you collection. Highly recommended.


The Thin Red Line



DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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