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Siskel: A Brilliant 'Red Line'

Does The Thin Red Line join the ranks of the classic World War II films? Can it impress fans of Saving Private Ryan?

CBS This Morning Contributor Gene Siskel says it does and it can.

"It's a terrific film," he says. "Another anti-war film. And given what is going on in Iraq, it couldn't come at a better time, a film with sensational visuals and a wonderful message."

Siskel also calls Terrence Malick's adaptation of the James Jones World War II novel The Thin Red Line a "brilliant new film."

In it, we follow the fortunes of a heroic sergeant, played by Sean Penn, and one of his more soulful soldiers, played by Jim Caviezel, who has lived among the South Sea islanders in their beautiful, natural state and is forever questioning why that must be disturbed.

Throughout the film, director Malick effectively takes us on patrol through the tall grasses of the island, allowing us to experience the tension of fighting a hidden enemy.

However, says Siskel, more compelling than the expertly staged combat sequences is the use of monologues and blunt dialogue as the soldiers question the war and their mission. A good example of this is a scene in which an army colonel (Nick Nolte) and his subordinate officer (Elias Koteas) confront each other over the expenditure of troops.

Siskel says he was immediately caught up in this story from its first frames, and it never lost his attention. He praises Malick for his "almost unmatched eye for the landscape and for storytelling through pictures. There are so many indelible images in The Thin Red Line that it almost defines what moviemaking is about."

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