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A still from The Thin Red Line COURTESY THE CRITERION COLLECTION CULTURE CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK Hidden Vision by Josh Rosenblatt WATCH a trailer for The Thin Red Line at tx1o.cornithinredline LACE A COPY OF THE NEW CRITERION Collection edition of The Thin Red Line in your DVD player and a curious message will appear on your television screen: “Director Terrence Malick recommends that The Thin Red Line be played loud.” This is made all the more strange because this is Terrence Malick we’re talking about, a filmmaker who’s famous for being reclusive and uncommunicative. Over his 40-year career as a writer and director, the Austin native has given no interviews, sat for no photo shoots, lobbied for no awards, and appeared on no television shows. That he’s communicating with the outside world about anything, especially one of his movies, is a minor miracle. Like its creator, The Thin Red Line is elusive and shrouded in mystery. Its structure and storyline, about a division of American soldiers fighting on Guadalcanal during World War II, feel impulsive and kaleidoscopic. A visual artist first, a philosopher second, and a writer last, Malick was never one to let a little thing like narrative cohesion get in the way of his vision. His two previous films, Badlands and Days of Heaven, were brilliantly meandering and unfocused. After all, did the world really need another movie with a tight three-act structure when there was so much wheat at twilight to be filmed? The Thin Red Line has enough gorgeous, lingering shots of trees, rivers, jungle birds and cloud formations to shame a thousand nature documentarians and give war-movie buffs fits. Do what Malick says and turn up the volume. The Thin Red Line’s bombs are deafening but Malick also wants you to hear the sound of wind rustling through tall grass, and what’s going on inside the soldiers’ heads. Plotlines and military strategies are 32 THE TEXAS OBSERVER WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG