The Thin Red Line movie poster
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The Thin Red Line - Movie Synopsis & Plot

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Every man fights his own war.

Based on the novel by James Jones, THE THIN RED LINE tells the story of a group of men, an Army Rifle company called C-for-Charlie, who change, suffer and ultimately make essential discoveries about themselves during the fierce World War II battle of Guadalcanal. The story takes place as Army troops are moved in to relieve battle-weary Marine units. It follows their journey, from the surprise of an unopposed landing, through the bloody and exhausting battles that follow, to the ultimate departure of those who survived.

The story is more than a tale of men fighting a key battle, one which would ultimately stem the Japanese advance through the Pacific Islands. It explores the intense bonds that develop between men under terrible stress, even evil; to Jones, who served with an Army unit in Guadalcanal, the soldiers' feelings and emotions developed into nothing less than a sense of love...of family. The horrors of war helped them lose their idea of self and of the world around them. They were no longer fighting solely for patriotic reasons or the larger world and its issues which had brought them there; they were fighting for survival and for the men next to them.

Director Terrence Malick's adaptation of Jones' work adds a new thematic strand, as it creates a strong awareness of the physical and anthropological environment in which this clash was fought. The film presents a juxtaposition of a vicious mechanized battle taking place in a pristine wilderness, where the forces of destruction collide with a people living in quiet harmony with their natural surroundings; these were the Melanesians of the Solomon Islands, whose way of life centers on family and tranquility.

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