Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. One of the most curious and perversely brilliant films ever made in the American studio system. It's a shining example of qualities we don't normally see in our big theatrical pictures: vast ambition, huge resources and technical genius mated to a unique and compelling vision of life.
  2. Here is something great and startling -- not necessarily the kind of comforting, consensus-creating film that wins Oscars, but unquestionably a movie that will live in the history of the medium.
  3. Unique and courageous. It may be counted as one of the year's few steps forward in cinema.
  4. Reviewed by: Graham Verdon
    This just may be the greatest war movie ever made.
  5. Reviewed by: Richard T. Jameson
    It's the awesome, metaphysically charged spectacle of man doing terrible things to man within the multicolored and multifarious cathedral of Nature.
  6. 90
    Malick's powerful intermingling of brutality and beauty, his signature cutaways to indigenous flora and fauna, and the gentle lyricism of his disjunctive narration and painterly images are too rich to fully register in a single viewing.
  7. 90
    As mystical as it is gritty, as despairing as it is detached.
  8. Reviewed by: Tom Keogh
    Misshapen but magnificent vision of a soulful quest -- in the thick of misery and fear -- for the meaning of our lives.
  9. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    Could be called the "Red Badge of Courage" of World War II movies.
  10. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    The film is a gorgeous garland on an unknown soldier's grave.
  11. The disturbing ideas it plants in the soil of the soul need time and darkness ? not light ? to germinate.
  12. 80
    An intensely internalized portrait of external pandemonium, a slippery, insidiously haunting work of poetry rather than brilliantly realized pulp.
  13. Reviewed by: Norman Green
    The Thin Red Line attempts to soar much nearer to the sun than "Ryan." Its imagery aims at our souls. It wrestles with complexity, speaks to us in poetry, weaves multiple narrative strands into a tapestry, opens the festering wounds of war and gazes inside without blinking.
  14. 80
    I was so taken by the film's sublime visual poetry, its telling silences, its finely orchestrated editing rhythms.
  15. An art film to the core. If it's an epic, it's an intimate, dream-time epic, an elliptical, episodic film, dependent on images and reveries, that treats war as the ultimate nightmare, the one you just cannot awaken from no matter how hard you try.
  16. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Juxtaposes beauty and horror to fashion a savage and lyrical cinematic poem.
  17. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    No movie in the last decade has succeeded in psyching out critics and audiences as fully as the powerful, rambling war epic The Thin Red Line.
  18. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Like a Rousseau painting splattered with carnage of warfare.
  19. This may have its occasional dull stretches, but in contrast to "Saving Private Ryan" it's the work of a grown-up with something to say about the meaning and consequences of war.
  20. Despite this film's narrative lapses, Malick has a unique way of distilling the poetry from the commonplace -- and for that precious gift we should say amen.
  21. 75
    The movie's schizophrenia keeps it from greatness (this film has no firm idea of what it is about), but doesn't make it bad. It is, in fact, sort of fascinating: a film in the act of becoming, a field trial, an experiment in which a dreamy poet meditates on stark reality.
  22. Although the story seems disjointed at times, no other war movie has tried so valiantly to convey not only the suffering of combat but the awful fissures it leaves between humanity's ideal oneness with itself and the world we live in.
  23. 75
    The director is a poet of images.
  24. Like no other war movie you've ever seen.
  25. 70
    What Malick has fashioned here is less a conventional narrative than an impressionistic mosaic of our common, yet varied experience of life and death, as focused and clarified through the relentless lens of war.
  26. One more film that could have been helped by excising repetition and focusing performances, but it wanders almost randomly instead. The heart-piercing moments that punctuate its rambling are glimpses of what a tighter film might have been.
  27. A big, fat, gorgeous, mesmerizing mess.
  28. An epic aestheticization of World War II, a movie at once bold and baffling, immediate and abstract.
  29. Reviewed by: Edvins Beitiks
    Powerful war spectacle neglects novel's heart and much of story.
  30. 60
    Malick dangles his maddeningly innocent ideas about life and death and man's gift for self-destruction.
  31. 50
    The Thin Red Line, either by incompetence or willful perversity, dispenses with plot, characterization, dramatic structure and emotional payoffs in favor of the sort of painstakingly composed pictorial diddling that invariably gets critics frothing about the director's "indelible" images.
  32. But it is precisely with these contrapuntal strands of huge, timeless nature, of the complexity of every human mind, that Malick bloats his film into banality. [Jan. 25, 1999]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 176 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 58 out of 73
  2. Negative: 12 out of 73
  1. Dec 30, 2011
    The Thin Red Line is up there with the greatest WWII movies of all time. It has incredible visuals that blow you away, and realistic war "gameplay." The Thin Red Line also offers the strangest insights into life lessons, mostly spoken by Witt. Ferociously suspenseful, The Thin Red Line is Terrence Mallick's masterpiece, and was a high contender at the 1999 Oscars. Full Review »
  2. Nov 21, 2011
    I have seen all of Malick's films and have found them average and overated. However the thin red line stands alone. Malick captures human nature beautfully through war with intesnse and masterfully crafted war scenes. Malick's style has never worked so well in a film! One of the best movies of all time! Full Review »
  3. Oct 25, 2011
    Along with the realistic portrayal of a battlefield and its fighting soldiers, Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" is a WW2 masterpiece that derives from other movies like "Saving Private Ryan". The film, surrounded by strange tranquility, demands us of why war is fought and how humanity will overcome adversities of their own agenda in a time of despair and blood. A effectively clandestine movie that definitely is worth to watch. Full Review »