Choice view­ing

Your chance to re­dis­cover an over­looked mas­ter­piece.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By RENE RO­DRIGUEZ

Sean Penn stars as 1st Sgt Ed­ward Welsh in

FOR an ex­am­ple of Blu-ray technology at its best – as well as the op­por­tu­nity to re­dis­cover an over­looked mas­ter­piece – check out the new disc of Ter­rence Mal­ick’s World War II med­i­ta­tion The Thin Red Line (Cri­te­rion Col­lec­tion, also on DVD) and get ready to scrape your jaw off the floor.

Mal­ick is, among other things, a vis­ual poet, and the Cri­te­rion Blu-ray cap­tures ev­ery blood-stained blade of grass and bul­letrid­dled tree leaf with such pris­tine clar­ity, those new­fan­gled 3D TVs sud­denly seem su­per­flu­ous.

When you se­lect the movie on the Blu-ray’s menu, a note pops up from Mal­ick sug­gest­ing you turn up the vol­ume on your re­ceiver, be­cause the sound mix is so densely lay­ered. But the DTS-HD Mas­ter Au­dio track on the disc is so pow­er­ful, one of the ex­plo­sions blew out my left speaker, so heed Mal­ick’s ad­vice with cau­tion.

Al­though The Thin Red Line was nom­i­nated for seven Os­cars and won a slew of other awards for Mal­ick and cin­e­matog­ra­pher John Toll, it didn’t at­tract a wide the­atri­cal au­di­ence in 1998 (peo­ple flocked in­stead to the much more ac­ces­si­ble Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan, re­leased that same year).

Watch­ing the film again to­day feels like un­cov­er­ing a lost clas­sic – one that has aged par­tic­u­larly well. Al­though there are a cou­ple of cameos that still dis­tract (Ge­orge Clooney’s pop­ping up in the last five min­utes re­mains a bad idea), the florid voiceover nar­ra­tion re­veal­ing the char­ac­ters’ thoughts, along with the un­usual struc­ture of the script, com­bine to make a beau­ti­ful and elo­quent tone poem.

Maybe I’m just older – I wasn’t crazy about The Thin Red Line the first time I saw it – but watch­ing it to­day is a stir­ring, haunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, one that’s un­likely to be matched by any other war pic­ture you’ve ever seen.

Mal­ick is the J.D. Salinger of film­mak­ers – he hasn’t granted an in­ter­view or talked di­rectly about his work in decades – but the Cri­te­rion disc is re­plete with ex­tras that more than fill the void left by his ab­sence.

A half-hour doc­u­men­tary fea­tures new in­ter­views with cast mem­bers Sean Penn, James Caviezel, Elias Koteas and oth­ers talk-talk­ing about Mal­ick’s work habits and their ex­pe­ri­ences on the set.

An­other 20-minute fea­turette is an in­ter­view with cast­ing di­rec­tor Dianne Cri­tended, who talks about how ev­ery young ac­tor in Hollywood au­di­tioned for a role in the film and in­cludes test footage of sev­eral fa­mous faces who didn’t make the cut (Neil Pa­trick Har­ris!).

Editors Leslie Jones, Saar Klein and Billy Webb dis­cuss the daunt­ing task of whit­tling down the reams of footage Mal­ick shot into a man­age­able length in a 30-minute fea­turette (the first cut of the movie ran a whop­ping five hours).

They also dis­cuss how Mal­ick de­cided to make Caviezel’s char­ac­ter the cen­tre of the film, leav­ing poor Adrien Brody, who was orig­i­nally sup­posed to star, as a mi­nor sup­port­ing char­ac­ter.

The Thin Red Line is so over­crowded with ac­tors that if you don’t watch care­fully, you may not even spot John Cu­sack.

Other ex­tras in­clude 15 min­utes of deleted scenes; an in­ter­view with Kaylie Jones, daugh­ter of nov­el­ist James Jones (whose book in­spired the film); news­reel footage of the Guada­canal bat­tles de­picted in the movie, and an in­for­ma­tive com­men­tary track with cin­e­matog­ra­pher Toll, pro­duc­tion de­signer Jack Fisk and pro­ducer Grant Hill, who go into ex­haus­tive de­tail about the mak­ing of the pic­ture. Their pres­ence is not quite the same as lis­ten­ing to Mal­ick, but they come close enough. – The Mi­ami Her­ald/McClatchyTri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

TheThinRedLine.

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