A week before Tree of Life opens, I wanted to repost Jonathan Rosenbaum’s original review of 1999’s The Thin Red Line and a reassessment of Badlands, the 1973 debut that made Terrence Malick’s reputation and remains, to my eyes, his greatest achievement. The first half, Rosenbaum claims, is truly audacious:
one of the best literate examples of narrated American cinema since the early days of Welles and Polonsky. Compositions, actors, and lines interlock and click into place with irreducible economy and unerring precision, carrying us along before we have time to catch our breaths.
Consider me a skeptic about the rest. Days of Heaven and The New World left me unimpressed. I’m watching The Thin Red Line this weekend for the first time since spring ’99.