Terrence Malick’s artful WWII movie actually feels more like a Vietnam film because of the jungle locations, and combined with voice-overs and a moving score it is very reminiscent of Platoon.
It is rather more subtle than Oliver Stone’s film however, Malick choosing to contrast the ugliness of conflict with the timeless beauty of nature and simplicity of the life of indigenous tribes who have not adopted the concepts of nation and politics. The battle sequences themselves show war not as glorious, but chaotic and terrifying and acts of bravery are just as likely to be moments of madness as conscious decisions to be heroic. The sprawling cast packed with star names are uniformly excellent and the characters well-written and three dimensional, from Elias Koteas’ captain who feels such an attachment to his men he is unwilling to risk their lives, to Nick Nolte who sees them as nothing more than a resource; pawns on a chessboard to be used to achieve his own personal glory. The film is slow moving but in a thoughtful rather than dull way, and the sumptuous visuals are complimented by a wonderful score.
A deeply affecting and beautiful, beautiful film.