iTunes (U.S.)
eBay (U.S.)
Glisten Effect
Editorial Reviews
Scoreboard Forum
Viewer Ratings
         1. Gladiator
        2. Batman
       3. Nightmare Before Christmas
      4. Titanic
     5. Justice League
    6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
   7. Harry Potter: Sorcerer's Stone
  8. Maleficent
 9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
10. Edward Scissorhands
Home Page
The Thin Red Line
Album Cover Art
Co-Composed, Co-Arranged, and Co-Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
Bruce Fowler
Yvonne S. Moriarty

Conducted and Compiled by:
Gavin Greenaway

Co-Composed by:
John Powell
Francesco Lupica

Co-Arranged by:
Klaus Badelt
Labels Icon
BMG/RCA Victor
(January 12th, 1999)
Availability Icon
Regular U.S. release. An additional album including the Melanesian chants from the film was released a few months later.
Nominated for an Academy Award.
Also See Icon

Decorative Nonsense
(inverts site colors)

Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you appreciated the restrained and brooding atmosphere of the music as you heard it in the film, for The Thin Red Line is not a score to effectively approach without context.

Avoid it... if you are in search for more than just one short Melanesian song featured in the film, many of which were compiled onto a separate soundtrack album.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 1/27/99, REVISED 3/25/08
Shopping Icon

The Thin Red Line: (Hans Zimmer) Terrence Malick's brilliant imagery was absent from Hollywood for the twenty years prior to 1998's The Thin Red Line, a film loosely based on the same 1962 autobiographical novel by James Jones that inspired a more faithful and traditional 1964 adaptation to the screen. The story of one moment in the World War II battle at Guadalcanal is painfully explored by Malick with his typical sense of intellectual contemplation and visceral stimulation. Above all, The Thin Red Line is a beautiful film, as are most of Malick's visions. Unfortunately, in the process of bringing his glorious imagery to a story, he typically bundles many of his films' other attributes, and his editing has always been suspect. Nobody doubts the quality of the first two hours of The Thin Red Line, but after the battle for the hill central to the film's plot is finished, Malick's plotline loses all cohesion. A series of cameos by major stars distracts from the power of the film's message. The frantic battle sequences and ultra-realistic displays of nerves and bravery differ from Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan from earlier in the same year, inferior in a brutally honest and technical sense, but the same lack of romantic gloss permeates both films. One other aspect of Malick's films that typically suffers is the original score, which more often than not is badly rearranged or replaced by the director without much logical thought. To tolerate Malick's methodology, a composer has to be prepared for this eventually and write music according to the anticipatory chopping that will commence in the days just before the film's release. James Horner learned this lesson the hard way with The New World in 2005, with much of his superior score replaced nonsensically by classical music. In retrospect, Hans Zimmer handled Malick in a much better fashion for The Thin Red Line, despite the fact that the director predictably rearranged Zimmer's work at the last moment. "I'm always surprised by the reaction I get to The Thin Red Line," Zimmer said in 2001. "I know it's good, but not many people have heard it."

As a composer, if you approach a Malick film with hard synchronization points in mind, you're doomed to frustration. Studio chairman Mike Medavoy said of Zimmer's contribution, "It's not a traditional score," however, and that's why it worked. Zimmer instead scored The Thin Red Line loosely, composing between three and four hours of music for the film and allowing Malick to have a field day with it. "A musician has a very good sense of rhythm and sometimes of the lines, the voice of a line, the narration should be like a song," Zimmer stated. "Terry sees himself very much as my lyrist. When you don't have the mortar shells going off, I create this sort of sense of silence and in a peculiar way I've been trying to create normal silence or started something that you can just observe and maybe you get drawn in." Some of the scenes had particular cues written for them, but these ideas were typically misplaced in the final edit of the film anyway. The only reason this technique actually worked to a degree in the film was due to Malick's need for music that was as visceral as the film, conveying a consistent sense of brooding and gloomy atmosphere that could easy be swapped between scenes. The many hours of music that Zimmer wrote for The Thin Red Line did contain motifs for individual characters and one overarching idea for the soldiers' fight for survival. The motifs for the characters would prevail in the film, for the most part, but be completely lost on album. Vice versa is the title theme, which was not totally realized for the scene it was meant for in the film, but makes a grand statement in the track "Journey to the Line" on album. The resoundingly growling bass theme for Nick Nolte's commanding officer is perhaps the most memorable sub-theme, heard prominently once on album in "The Coral Atoll." In terms of style, Zimmer's score has little focus and relies on purely atmospheric meanderings to convey its sense of respect and fear. The composer said, "This is literally about making a very clear statement. It's more much along this sort of philosophical lines, actually."

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.02 Stars
***** 2,252 5 Stars
**** 1,535 4 Stars
*** 2,955 3 Stars
** 2,976 2 Stars
* 1,387 1 Stars
  (View results for all titles)

Comments Icon
Read All Start New Thread Search Comments
Favorite Tracks
as - February 20, 2013, at 8:04 p.m.
1 comment  (1132 views)
Powell's Review of Thin Red Line
Charles - November 15, 2009, at 5:56 a.m.
1 comment  (2656 views)
Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review #1
Todd China - May 3, 2009, at 7:11 a.m.
1 comment  (2649 views)
Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review #2
Sean O'Neill - May 3, 2009, at 7:09 a.m.
1 comment  (2059 views)
running music
SobAffongom - August 15, 2008, at 7:30 a.m.
1 comment  (2148 views)
Journey to the Line: greatest track ever! *****+ *NM*
Levente Benedek - August 6, 2006, at 3:51 a.m.
1 comment  (4162 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 58:56
• 1. The Coral Atoll (8:00)
• 2. The Lagoon (8:36)
• 3. Journey to the Line (9:21)
• 4. Light (7:19)
• 5. Beam* (3:44)
• 6. Air (2:21)
• 7. Stone in my Heart (4:28)
• 8. The Village (5:52)
• 9. Silence (5:06)
• 10. God U Tekem Laef Blong Mi (Melanesian song) (1:58)
• 11. Sit Back and Relax** (2:06)
* Composed by John Powell
** Composed by Francesco Lupica

Notes Icon
The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

Featured Musicians:

Harp: Ellie Choate, Katie Kirkpatrick, & Marcia Dickstein
Concert Master: Endre Granat
Shakahachi Flute: Daniel Kuramoto
Koto: June Kuramoto
Cosmic Beam: Francesco Lupica
Taiko Drums, Tibetan Bowls & Vocal Chants: Johnny Mori
Bassoon: Ken Munday
Taiko Drums, Tibetan Bowls & Tibetan Bells: Emil Richards
Taiko Drums & Tibetan Bells: Danny Yamamoto
Copyright © 1999-2020, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from The Thin Red Line are Copyright © 1999, BMG/RCA Victor and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 1/27/99 and last updated 3/25/08.
Reviews Preload Scoreboard decoration Ratings Preload Composers Preload Awards Preload Home Preload Search Preload