By Kasey Schiedeck | Image property of New Line Cinema
The New World
I waited several months for The New World to come out. Delay upon delay moved up the release date from Christmas 2005 to now. Now that I’ve seen the film, I must admit to only a pang of disappointment in an otherwise remarkable visual film.
The New World Movie Review
The story is well known: John Smith and co. travel to Jamestown, Virginia in the early part of the 17th Century. There they encounter “the naturals,” and more importantly Pocahontas, who becomes the effortless bridge between the cultures out of sheer innocent curiosity and integrity. Malick studies in great depth the struggles of the English to conform to their newfound land juxtaposed with the ease that the Native Americans utilize the earth with skill and dignity. Smith and Pocahontas do not fall in love as much as fall into a realm of innocent discovery that becomes the viaduct between the two eternally divergent cultures.
Pocahontas is played notably by fifteen-year-old Q'Orianka Kilcher who alludes pitiful melodrama in place of substantive grace and dignity. Colin Farrell plays John Smith and the two together are a match made in heaven. A montage of scenes when the two teach the other about their respective cultures is very touching as they remain caught in the same sense of wonder and excitement. Christian Bale as John Rolfe who finds Pocahontas a solemn English refugee and teaches her about loyalty and modern family values Christopher Plummer as the ship’s captain round out the cast.
The New World reminded me a lot of Malick’s 1978 film Days of Heaven that also utilized a similar passion for nature as more than a beautiful backdrop. The New World is far more engaging and boasts a substantially more alluring plot. Malick uses a slightly obscured version of the events, if that is even possible detect. I wouldn’t say his version is wrong by any means. He simply confronts the story from an objective viewpoint that remains consistent throughout. Here the focus is the unknown—the initial contact between the two cultures, the absurdity and arrogance of the English who walk blindly into a devilishly unsound lifestyle, and the reaction of the Natives to foreigners in the land they know and love. The story unfolds slowly and beautifully but little is saved for the last quarter of the film.