07 December 2010

Cover Art: The Thin Red Line

Since it's in the all time top 3, I've got to say a word about the new Criterion Collection Blu-ray art for The Thin Red Line. This notwithstanding the fact I don't own a television or a Blu-ray player. As always it's the art, the art, that matters.

First it must be noted that any cover would be an improvement over the DVD I own, which is basically the movie poster with a "Fox War Classics" banner across the top. You might be able to argue whether The Thin Red Line is anti-war; you cannot argue that it's anti-war film genre.

I often just start gushing over Criterion Collection covers but in this case I, like Capt. Staros, am full of demurs. My main problem is with how much it resembles a book. I've read James Jones' novel and it is not close to the greatness of Terrence Malick's film. Given the director's free improvisations with the characters, the book on which its based fades away completely while re(re-re-re-re-re)watching the film. Also, I don't get why it reads "the thin RED LINE" with the font sizing. There's no literal "red line" to cross--the title comes from the statement: "there's only a thin red line between the sane and the mad." I will credit the designer for making the majority of the space open sky and clouds. The still used for the cover is from a scene where Malick makes the actions of the soldiers subordinate to the movement of light over landscape.

This original mock-up, which I became aware of because I encourage Criterion Co. to spam me, is much closer to my vision of The Thin Red Line. It could be controversial because it puts Jim Caviezel all out in front of an ensemble piece, but Witt is the main dude and the tree/shoulder emphasizes the film's crucial recursivity: man being absorbed back into nature. The fractured font is also closer to what I would choose, even if it again presents a false dichotomy between "the thin" and "red line." It's all brought back together by the circling of black birds and spray of red-orange sparks.

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