January 19, 1999 [The Thin Red Line]

Has it been twenty years since Days of Heaven? Now there's a loaded question: those days have no measure, they can't even be said to melt into one another--the very idea of "one" or "other" eliminated at last, just One Day--if we can use those words, out here in Malick's Heaven--Guadalcanal this time, with demons running a hot stick along the Gates, rat-a-tat-a-tat and a bunch of guts in the mud, in the tall grass, at the threshold of the red-haired Native running a hand along the soldier's back as he leaves and re-joins his battalion and so forth.  Saving Private Ryan with a green bird watching, The Big Red One on the outside but a sonnet in their heads.

Terrence Malick has quite an eye, and he makes me look through it--so bright, so mystical--real mystical, no kidding this time, even the editing a Mystery of his Church.  Has he been waiting for this twenty years, this chance to whisper in my ear about war and the language of property gained--no: the language of love, lost and gained, and lost again.

I don't know where to turn.  He stands me in the field, the Japanese somewhere beyond the treeline and the battleships hunched down below the horizon--and I know I'd better get moving, stand in one place too long and it's three-on-a-match and bye-bye baby.  So I remember my helmet and tamp it down on my head and fix bayonet and float under deep water, Malick's Flood that swipes it all clean like a Hand and makes room for one more meandering line of men going deeper into the jungle and over the rise.


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