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New World, The
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by Jason Whyte

"Mr. Malick, don't let too much time pass to make another film."
5 stars

“The New World” is a movie to get lost in, and from the first few minutes we are thrown into director Terrence Malick’s world of complex characters that focus on their emotions and feelings at their current time in this new found place on earth, rather than overweighing us in a story about when Pocahontas met John Smith.

You see, that’s Terrence Malick for you. Here is a filmmaker who has only made Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978) and The Thin Red Line (1998); all great films, and all connected by Malick’s unique form of poetic storytelling. The man is not out to make $100 million blockbusters but rather make a film that challenges the viewer.

Watch closely how Malick unfolds the story. We are so clearly focused into the world of Pocahontas and John that the surrounding story of a group of English settlers that come across Indian villagers in Virginia is somewhat in the background. It’s there, and we acknowledge it, yet Malick hardly even wants to focus let alone sharpen the sound to the “plot” as we follow the story through calm and focused narration from the leads as they meet and get to know each other. It is rare, and a little ballsy, to have all of this going on when the core focus are these two people who are so deeply connected.

The performances are also very careful. Colin Farrell is so good here as Smith that you forget that it is heavyweight Farrell in the lead roll and you simply accept him. Christian Bale, who plays John Rolfe later in the film as a character who comes into Pocahontas’ life, has a small role and yet can say so much through his thoughts and his mannerisms. I also must mention Christopher Plummer, who is such a force of nature in cinema and even as he has a smaller part as Captain Newport, he holds his own against the bigger picture.

As Pocahontas (note: she is never referred to as this once in the film), newcomer Q'Orianka Kilcher is a name I have added to a short list of outstanding child performances, In the past I have raved about the likes of Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon), Jodie Foster (Taxi Driver) and even recently with Jenna Boyd (The Missing) and Valentina de Angelis (Off the Map) and yet I have never seen a performance like Kilcher’s, who, right when we see her, looks and feels like a person who comes from the 17th century. Even as the story progresses 10 years, Kilcher delicately balances her characteristics to make the transition acceptable.

The look of the film is incredibly important, and therefore Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki deserves his own paragraph. Malick, like Stanley Kubrick before him, is passionate about finding the best talent infront and behind the camera, and Lubezki’s photography is flawless, showing nature as something that is not only close and right at our touch, but as something that truly interacts with its people. Utilizing select wide lenses and framing, the film overwhelms our senses just from the first few minutes. Some select scenes were shot in the 65mm format (99 % all film-oriented projects are shot in 35mm) to enhance some of the jaw-dropping visuals, and if this film does not win the Best Cinematography Oscar (screw you, Brokeback Mountain!) there is no justice in the Academy.

I feel like I have only lightly touched on the greatness of The New World, and yet the film contains so much wonder as a dream and as a feeling, rather than giving us a straightforward approach to the story, which we have seen so many times. Terrence Malick may make so few movies, but if they take this long to make movies this good, it is definitely worth the wait.

Note: I viewed the version that has been edited down to about 136 minutes from 150 for a wide release, and while I have yet to view the longer version (I will see it on DVD) there isn’t a false note or step in the currently released version. It does not feel “edited” or “trimmed” in any way. So please, drop what you are doing and see this film now.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13670&reviewer=350
originally posted: 02/12/06 02:40:55
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User Comments

5/17/11 Ravenmad Beautiful w/out so many words. It makes you feel. 5 stars
6/27/09 Bedridden Languidly beautiful 4 stars
2/14/09 Chloe The most beautiful movie I've ever seen 5 stars
11/27/08 Shaun Wallner Great Film! 5 stars
9/13/07 Matt A great story which needs a remarke because this version is a painful YAWN. 1 stars
11/03/06 MP Bartley Sombre, but lush and absorbing. 4 stars
10/26/06 Tiffany Losco Boring, I thought this would be great, but it was horrible 1 stars
9/16/06 Pocahontas was 11 years old Crap, not true, dehumanizing towards Native people.... 1 stars
8/21/06 William Goss Man, what a first half. God, what a second half. 3 stars
7/03/06 Ry too long, not enough to keep you entertained. 3 stars
5/30/06 daveyt worth a look for the cinematography, thin red line without the action. A little ponderous 4 stars
5/22/06 Chunkylover53 Opening frame is introduced, exotic plant& was highpoint of dungheap BTW Indians all on X! 1 stars
5/21/06 jpp sublime 5 stars
5/15/06 Brett If you don't like it, Stealth is probably for you. 5 stars
5/11/06 fred c dobbs fine drama along with great photography 4 stars
5/11/06 Danny Goode not that great 2 stars
5/06/06 k r absolute crap 1 stars
4/24/06 Furuta My god!!!! the worst film ever!!! 1 stars
3/05/06 The Grinch Running through meadows, more running through meadows. COMA or poetic movie?You decide. 3 stars
3/02/06 Pocahontas looks constipated. I kept hoping she'd lift that loincloth and belt out a huge hearty heallthy dump! 4 stars
2/13/06 John It is too long, tedious, indulgent but it stays with you for a long time 4 stars
2/05/06 Agent Sands Do NOT go expecting an action flick. It's a Bergman-esque character study. 4 stars
2/04/06 Melina Beautiful, visual love poem 5 stars
1/28/06 Dan It's a shame that this wasn 5 stars
1/28/06 josh thank you erik childress for stating what ive been thinking 1 stars
1/25/06 the laughing man Visually Breathtaking 4 stars
1/23/06 Pickles Christ UMM...and just where was the giant spider attacK? the fireball explosions? ... ?? 3 stars
1/23/06 newpeep a self-conscious affair 2 stars
1/23/06 herkos akhaion Looks great, but story is slow and clunky 3 stars
1/22/06 Elizabeth Langurous and poetic. 4 stars
1/22/06 jcjs beautiul, uplifting, true, vast, profound, new, kind, different, splendid, languid, fine 5 stars
1/21/06 Jim The Movie Freak Best Film of 2005. A poetic, heartrending work of art. 5 stars
1/06/06 rory amazing film! 5 stars
12/31/05 Travis Anthem I saw a free screening and I want a refund for my time! 1 stars
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  25-Dec-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 09-May-2006

  27-Jan-2006 (12A)


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