Thursday, January 26, 2006


THE NEW WORLD is a beautiful new film from Terrence Mallick, acclaimed director of THE THIN RED LINE and DAYS HEAVEN. It tells the story of Pocahontas. She is a Princess - a beloved daughter of a native American tribe that happens upon some newly arrived native American colonists. When a search party, led by Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) comes upon her village, Pocahontas (newcomer Q'Orianka Kilcher) and Smith fall in love. It is a strange sort of love, displayed through delicate hand gestures and disjointed newly-learned words. It is also strange because Pocahontas is a very young girl, full of innocence and open-ness. Smith is a weary soldier. Pocahontas would willingly live with him, but despite his undoubted love, his realism leads him back to England and to have others lie to her about his death. Pocahontas is then traded with the English as a peace offering and goes into a kind of mourning. It is truly sad to see her trussed up in a corset. However, slowly she falls in love with a good man - John Rolfe (Christian Bale) and retuns with him to England in a triumphal audience with the king.

The story is powerful - repressed and thwarted love - the clash of innocence and cold pragmatism - the wonder of the New World for the English and the English court for Pocahontas. But the real triumph of the movie is its graceful photography, clever use of interior monologue and cross-cutting. For instance, if Captain Smith finds his mind wandering to Pocahontas when trading with some native Americans, the camera also wanders to images of them together. At all times, the images are heightened by the most wonderful use of Wagner I have seen in a long time. This is a truly beautiful and outstanding film.
THE NEW WORLD is on release in the US and the UK. It is released in France on the 15th February 2006 and in Germany on the 2nd March.

1 comment:

  1. I thought The New World was beautiful.

    I went into the cinema with only a vague notion of who Terrence Malick is but in the first five minutes, I recognized the style and remembered "oh, yeah: Days of Heaven!"

    Back in my younger days, I watched Days of Heaven over and over. It was also slow, but as you said, if you just go with it, it's a visual experience. In Days of Heaven, I was irritated by the mountains in the background (there are no mountains in Texas...even though the story was set in Texas, it was shot in Canada)--in The New World I was irritated by the Indians' "fashions". My husband took one look at Pocahontas's "native" garb and said, "I bet they spent $2,000 for that dress" Yep. But Colin Farrell and Christian Bale are always worth watching. I didn't feel like I had wasted my money.