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10 reviews, 35 user ratings

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New World, The
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by EricDSnider

"It's just not the same without the talking grandmother tree."
4 stars

"The New World" is the sort of film that, left to its own devices, can completely engulf you. On a big screen with a modern sound system, undisturbed by a noisy audience or other distractions, it's a mesmerizing, nearly unique piece of work. It will hold a lot less power on DVD, I think, unless you've got top-of-the-line equipment. It needs to be big to be effective.

That being said, it's easier to admire the film than to love it. It's transcendently poetic and philosophical, focused more on characters' thoughts than on their actions, and such introspection can be trying to a viewer's patience. I like it better thinking about it than I did while I was watching it. It is very much what they call an "art film."

It's from writer/director Terrence Malick, the beloved, reclusive filmmaker who has made only three films before this one over the course of more than 30 years. "Badlands" (1973), "Days of Heaven" (1978) and "The Thin Red Line" (1998) are all classics in their way, and "The New World" is what you might call vintage Malick: contemplative, unusual, and the very opposite of a Hollywood blockbuster.

It begins in 1607 with John Smith's arrival in Virginia and ends some 10 years later, with Pocahontas in England, stuffed into a proper British dress and going by the name Rebecca. It's a far more accurate telling of the story than most previous films have managed, though it's interesting that historical authenticity doesn't seem like it was Malick's chief interest, but was merely part of the framework. That is, when it's over, you're not supposed to think, "Wow, that was accurate" until after you've thought several other things first.

John Smith (Colin Farrell), a romantic adventure-seeker and occasional scoundrel, finds the natives living an idyllic life, devoid of guile or hostility. In Pocahontas (Q'Orianka Kilcher) -- whose name we never actually hear uttered -- he sees unspoiled beauty and innocence, a personification of the land and people around her.

Their friendship (and perhaps more) sealed, Pocahontas helps John's fellow colonists survive a bad winter and is treated with respect by the English when circumstances at home force her to come live with them. When she goes to England with John Rolfe (Christian Bale), the settler she marries after John Smith departs, she is treated like a princess.

Malick pays Farrell as John Smith plenty of attention, both on screen and in his eloquent voice-overs, but the character ranks third in importance, coming in after Pocahontas -- so tenderly portrayed by 14-year-old newcomer Kilcher -- and nature itself. The rivers, trees and grasses of virginal Virginia take center stage throughout the film, gorgeously photographed by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki in mostly natural light. The sound design, full of rushing water and chirping birds, reflects this emphasis, and Malick makes superb use of Mozart and Wagner (along with a score by James Horner) to let music play a significant part in painting the picture, too.

No doubt a film as non-plot-centric and ruminative as this one will strike some viewers as self-indulgent, and I probably wouldn't argue with them. Malick's technique doesn't strike me as pretentious -- or at least not enough to bother me -- but it's such an unusual film, with its deceptively simple narrative and its basic, naturalistic presentation, that any number of interpretations of it are valid. My interpretation? It's a beautiful and difficult work of art.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13670&reviewer=247
originally posted: 05/11/06 02:55:58
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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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