Cinematographer Ross Riege on The Thin Red Line
“We're living in a world that's blowing itself to hell as fast as everybody can arrange it.”
Talking About Terrence Malick’s 1998 film The Thin Red Line with our guest, cinematographer Ross Riege
While Terrence Malick’s war film came out five months after Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, it couldn’t be more different. They’re both exceptional films, but Malick’s takes a more pensive, thoughtful, esoteric approach with his. At its basest level, the story follows a military unit on the Melanesian island of Guadalcanal as they work to take it from Japanese troops. While that story’s there, in Malick’s hands, the film is more about the balance between man and nature and how the war machine destroys men’s souls.
Not only is the way Malick crafts the story haunting, it’s also done in a way that fits perfectly with his themes and views. Cinematographer Ross Riege is a big fan, having first seen this and a number of other Malick films when prepping Redland, an early film he worked on, as well as his big break as cinematographer for The Kings of Summer. It’s fitting then that that film’s look was described as feeling Malickian.
We talk more with Riege about his career, starting with smaller films and moving up to films like Weird: The Al Yankovic Story and the TV series The Afterparty. We also get some impressions from him on the switch from film to digital, working with his crews, and more. It’s a fantastic conversation about a great movie with a great cinematographer.
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Welcome to Movies We Like
In each episode, co-hosts Andy Nelson and Pete Wright invite someone from inside the film industry to discuss their favorite films. What makes a movie inspirational to a cinematographer or a costume designer? Listen in to hear how these pros watch their favorite films.