The Thin Red Line (1998 film)

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The Thin Red Line (1998) tells the story of United States Forces during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. Terrence Malick adapted the screenplay himself from the James Jones novel of the same name.

Private Witt[edit]

  • I remember my mother when she was dyin', looked all shrunk up and gray. I asked her if she was afraid. She just shook her head. I was afraid to touch the death I seen in her. I couldn't find nothin' beautiful or uplifting about her goin' back to God. I heard of people talk about immortality, but I ain't seen it. I wondered how it'd be like when I died, what it'd be like to know this breath now was the last one you was ever gonna draw. I just hope I can meet it the same way she did, with the same... calm. 'Cause that's where it's hidden - the immortality I hadn't seen.
  • voice over We were a family. How'd it break up and come apart, so that now we're turned against each other? Each standing in the other's light. How'd we lose that good that was given us? Let it slip away. Scattered it, careless. What's keepin' us from reaching out, touching the glory?
  • Maybe all men got one big soul everybody's a part of, all faces are the same man.
  • Wars don't ennoble men, it turns them into dogs, poisons the soul.

First Sergeant Edward Welsh[edit]

  • Where's your spark now?
  • We're living in a world that's blowing itself to pieces as fast as everybody can arrange it.
  • I might be the best friend you ever had, you don't even know it.
  • What difference do you think you can make, one single man in all this madness? If you die, it's gonna be for nothing. There's not some other world out there where everything's gonna be okay. There's just this world. Just this rock.
  • Property. The whole fucking thing's about property.
  • Everything's a lie. Everything you hear, everything you see. So much to spew out. They just keep coming, one after another. You're in a box. A moving box. They want you dead, or in their lie... There's only one thing a man can do - find something that's his, and make an island for himself. If I never meet you in this life, let me feel the lack; a glance from your eyes, and my life will be yours.

Private Jack Bell[edit]

  • Why should I be afraid to die? I belong to you. If I go first, I'll wait for you there, on the other side of the dark waters. Be with me now.
  • Love. Where does it come from? Who lit this flame in us? No war can put it out, conquer it. I was a prisoner. You set me free.

Private Edward P. Train[edit]

  • first lines, voice over What's this war in the heart of nature? Why does nature vie with itself? The land contend with the sea? Is there an avenging power in nature? Not one power, but two?
  • voice over This great evil. Where does it come from? How'd it steal into the world? What seed, what root did it grow from? Who's doin' this? Who's killin' us? Robbing us of life and light. Mockin' us with the sight of what we might've known. Does our ruin benefit the earth? Does it help the grass to grow, the sun to shine? Is this darkness in you, too? Have you passed through this night?
  • last lines, voice over Where is it that we were together? Who were you that I lived with? Walked with? The brother. The friend. Darkness and light. Strife and love. Are they the workings of one mind? The features of the same face? Oh, my soul. Let me be in you now. Look out through my eyes. Look out at the things you made. All things shining.
  • One man looks at a dying bird and thinks there's nothing but unanswered pain. That death's got the final word, it's laughing at him. Another man sees that same bird, feels the glory, feels something smiling through it.


Lt. Col. Gordon Tall[edit]

  • voice over I'm dying. Slow as a tree.
  • voice over The closer you are to Caesar, the greater the fear.
  • You're Greek, captain, aren't you? Did you ever read Homer? We read Homer at the Point. In Greek.
  • voice over Shut up in a tomb. Can't lift the lid. Playing a role I never conceived.
  • You attack hard and center! Go straight up that goddamn hill!
  • You are not taking your men into the jungle, to avoid a goddamn fight! Now, I want you to attack, I want you to attack right now with every man at your disposal!
  • How many men do you think it's worth? How many lives? One? Two? Three? Twenty? Lives will be lost in your company, Captain. If you don't have the stomach for it, now is the time to let me know.
  • Look at this jungle. Look at the vines, the way they twine around the trees, swallowing everything. Nature's cruel, Staros.

Dead Japanese Soldier[edit]

  • Are you righteous? Kind? Does your confidence lie in this? Are you loved by all? Know that I was, too. Do you imagine your sufferings will be less because you loved goodness? Truth?


Private Witt: Do you ever feel lonely?
First Sgt. Edward Welsh: Only around people.

Welsh: In this world, a man himself is nothing. And there ain't no world, but this one.
Witt: You're wrong, there, Top: I've seen another world. Sometimes I think it was just my imagination.
Welsh: Well, then you've seen things I never will.


  • Every man fights his own war.


Sean Penn : 1st Sgt. Edward Welsh
Adrien Brody : Cpl. Fife
Jim Caviezel : Pvt. Witt
Ben Chaplin : Pvt. Bell
George Clooney :Capt. Bosche
John Cusack : Capt. Gaff
Woody Harrelson : Sgt. Keck
Elias Koteas : Cpt. Staros
Nick Nolte : Lt. Col. Tall
John C. Reilly : Sgt. Storm

External links[edit]