chapter  2
Simon Critchley
Pages 18

The Thin Red Line is a war film. It deals with the events surrounding the battle for Guadalcanal in November 1942, as the US Army fought its bloody way north across the islands of the South Pacific against ferocious Japanese resistance. But it is a war film in the same way that Homer’s Iliad is a war poem. The viewer seeking verisimilitude and documentation of historical fact will be disappointed. Rather, Malick’s movie is a story of what we might call “heroic fact”: of death, of fate, of pointed and pointless sacrifice. Finally, it is a tale of love, both erotic love and, more importantly, the love of compassion whose cradle is military combat and whose greatest fear is dishonor. In one nighttime scene, we see Captain Staros in close-up praying, “Let me not betray my men.”