Battleland

War Movies in Honor of Memorial Day

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Over at Global Spin, Tony Karon and I present a weekly offering of five films we reckon are not only worth watching, but illustrate something about current affairs. In honor of Memorial Day, this week’s edition is all about the U.S. at war.

The Thin Red Line

It’s fitting that in the week that Terrence Malick — the philosopher-turned-filmmaker who can spend a decade at a time on a project — won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for Tree of Life, we feature an earlier triumph of his. As far as your humble scribe is concerned, The Thin Red Line is the best World War II film out there, and one of the best war movies period. Set amid the bloody 1942 battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific, The Thin Red Line is a mesmerizing epic suffused with the cosmic poignancy that has become Malick’s signature. In one moment, the camera brings you to a quivering man with a gun, gripped by the terror and sadness of battle — the next you drift with the wind through the tall grass. It sounds cheesy in text, but the grace and empathy of The Thin Red Lineis at times overwhelming. And it was a shame that a film of its stature was overshadowed in the year of its release by Steven Spielberg’s far more box-office-friendly and nationalistic Saving Private Ryan.

Read the rest here.

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