This three-hour work stretches beyond mere action films and reaches the audience’s heart with a steady dose of character dialogue and realistic war environments. This film, based on a book, gives a more literary account of World War II battles set in Japan as numerous characters interact extensively with their wartime environments and fellow soldiers. It’s a unique narrative that blends dozens of characters.
Main characters include Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Jim Caviezel, Elias Koteas, Ben Chaplin, Adrien Brody, Woody Harrelson, and Jon Cusack, with small performances from John Travolta, Jared Leto, and George Clooney. These various, well acted performances contribute deep personal glimpses into the mind of a solider during the second World War.
Individuality becomes non-existent as soldiers realize they’re “…nothing in world.” One solider stretches a hand to comfort a frightened civilian while another lone survivor of a platoon frantically digs at the ground and loudly exclaims his insignificance. These performances give a full glimpse of soldiers invading an island in Japan from start to finish.
Director Terrance Malick uses great first person perspective by using straight linear shots that go directly to the graphic fighting scenes, weaving in between soldiers like a running back in a football game.
Malick uses many exterior settings full of wildlife and beaming sunlight as soldiers of all ranks struggle with the physical and mental aspects of war. The voice over narration consists of numerous soldiers telling their stories of meaning and humanity amid the raging wrath of combat.
A great achievement in filmmaking that may leave some viewers yearning for more entertainment value, but viewers looking for literary and intellectual value should be satisfied. This adaptation of James Jones’ 1962 autobiographical novel comes recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated R for realistic war violence and language.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler