Help us Settle an Argument… Saving Private Ryan or The Thin Red Line?

It’s been some time (almost a year, in fact) since our last/first/only poll, and given the amount of discussion we’ve had since as to the merits of certain films or directors over others it seems about time for another…

In 1998, two war movies were released by accomplished, respected directors that would earn high critical acclaim and each find a place among the greatest of all time. Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg) opens in an almost unprecedented hard-hitting fashion documenting the storming of Normandy, and is, as Eddie put it, “one of the most visceral and effective war tales ever made for screen,” and The Thin Red Line (at the time Terrence Malick’s first film in 20 years) is a poetic, meditative exploration of the fleeting properties of life that is shot beautifully and features a plethora of outstanding acting talent.

saving private ryan

Tom Hanks is a stoic lead in Spielberg’s classic Saving Private Ryan

 Jim Caviezel is outstanding in Malick's mesmerizing The Thin Red Line

Jim Caviezel is outstanding in Malick’s mesmerizing The Thin Red Line

Eddies in the Saving Private Ryan corner, and I an unabashed fan of Malick’s interpretation of the war film.

So, help us settle the argument!

… and feel free to comment below with your reasoning!


48 responses to “Help us Settle an Argument… Saving Private Ryan or The Thin Red Line?

  1. I picked Saving Private Ryan because it works more as a war movie, touching on the various aspects of the war experience. Malick’s film, feels more meditative and introspective rather than being an actual war movie, even with it’s setting. But that’s just me. I like both for very different reasons.

    • I can see your points, but I do believe that the taking of the hill in The Thin Red Line puts the viewer right in the thick of the action like no other film.. being surrounded by the dense grass with snakes, shots narrowly missing etc. But as you said, its very easy to like both.

  2. Agree with bck1402 above; SPR is simply the better war movie, and I’d argue just technically a better movie in general. TRL can’t quite ever move beyond its artsy, introspective ambitions and form a cohesive story, while Spielberg’s adventure is an expertly crafted war epic featuring better shot battle scenes and more likable, more interesting characters. It’s also far better paced than the incredibly slow TRL.

  3. Thin Red Line was dreadful. Occassionally I got up and walked around the lobby just because I couldn’t take how slow it was. Of course, it was also during the first week of my first serious attempt to quit smoking, so I was already edgy. But the film was soooooo slow.

  4. I prefer SPR. Malick indulges himself too much with mannerism, his film would benefit from some skilled editing and cutting, 15-20 minutes less would go a long way and make it a truly masterpiece of introspective analysis on war (like Apocalipse Now for example).

  5. Private Ryan. Scares me on the beach, then makes me shed man tears at the end. Any movie you have to psych yourself up to watch is always a great one.

  6. Both are great, but The Thin Red Line is unquestionably my favorite. It succeeds on just about every imaginable level; Malick’s visual directing style translates beautifully into a war film, providing an experience like no other. But that’s just me. Two really excellent movies!

  7. Opposite movies, under every aspect one may chose to consider. SPR is just like what war must actually be: brutal, unfair, cruel. The movie has a terrific pace from the first, incredible opening beach sequence to the end. TRL is philosophical, serene, and so visually beautiful that it seems unfitting for a war movie. That is until the scene of the taking of the hill. I voted TRL, because I remember I was happier when I went out of the theatre than after SPR, so you see, a cold and technical opinion!

      • I mean, it’s a war movie, and with me being the action-obsessed mastermind that I am, of course I’ll have to see it. However, with all of the discussions I’ve had about movies and all the movie reviews I’ve done on here, I’m surprised this film didn’t come up until now.

      • Very strange mate although TRL is more a meditative study on war and not your more action driven experience like a Black Hawk Down or Saving Private Ryan.

  8. I’ve just never understood the allure of Saving Private Ryan. Okay, so the beach assault is brutal and your get points for Ted Danson but the rest of the film is just a parade of cheeseball sentiment trying to pass itself of as meaningful. The clue is in the scene where the mother receives the telegram – manipulative nonsense that feels the audience doesn’t understand how upsetting that news would be and wouldn’t look out of place in Pearl Harbor.

  9. Thin Red Line felt incomplete to me. The cinematography was gorgeous, but the narrative was super-lacking and it felt very stitched together. I’m also not a fan of Malick’s slow pacing and borderline artsploitation. I’m not as big of a Saving Private Ryan fan as many, but I do think it is overall a better crafted film.

  10. There’s only one thing missing in Saving P R, and that is Thin Red Line’s excellent editing. On the other hand, Thin Red Line is missing a few bits more…

    • I’m very much a Thin Red Line fan. It may lack the pace and excitement of Ryan, but it really draws you into the psyche of an overwhelmed soldier in an extraordinary way.

  11. Thin red line for sure. It’s not really a contest, I don’t know what anyone ever saw in Saving private Ryan. Steve Spielberg and Mat Damon…… come on folks ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • We do ๐Ÿ™‚ just in all honesty have not hears that before if I can ask what don’t you like about it? Generally interested to hear.

      • SPR is popular with men of a certain age, it’s one of those films like . The Shawshank Redemption and the godfather. A certain type of person generally likes either one or all of those films. Spielberg and Ma damon are like a recipe of week old crap that only festers into unimaginably rotten fecal matter over time. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • whenever I think about one of Spielberg’s films I think about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s comment, that is that “Spielberg makes commercials and fucks mickey mouse”.

  12. Thin Red Line isn’t a movie its a work of art. Its like poetry. Its got a philosophy, a soul. Ryan is just a (good) movie. I just adore TRL, frankly.

  13. Pingback: Film Review – Song to Song (2017) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s