Classic Review – The New World (2005)

Title – The New World (2005)

Director – Terrence Malick (Tree of Life)

Cast – Colin Farrell, Q’orianka Kilcher, Christian Bale, Christopher Plummer, David Thewlis, Wes Studi, Yorick van Wageningen, Ben Mendelsohn

Plot – The true story of Native American Indian Pocahontas (Kilcher) and her new found love with English explorer Captain Smith (Farrell) during the changing landscape of the 1600’s.

“Dear mother, you fill the land with your beauty. You reach to the end of the world. How shall I seek you? 

Review by Eddie on 16/12/2019

Disclaimer: This review is based on the Extended Cut version of the film   

Undoubtedly not for everyone, Terrence Malick’s slow moving yet quietly powerful and astoundingly beautiful epic The New World is a stunningly realised cinematic experience, that must surely go down as one of the most naturally beautifully and heartfelt pieces of filmmaking ever delivered, as the divisive Texan filmmaker takes us on a ponderous and contemplative trip back to the early America’s to tell the true story of Pocahontas and her life filled with love and heartbreak.

Here reviewing the Extended Cut of Malick’s film, drawn out to near 3 hours from its 2 and a half hour theatrical cut, The New World is never afraid to bask in its own thoughtful and imagery driven nature and for those that found the original cut too much to handle this is a version of the film you’d do best to steer very far away from but for anyone that has ever found themselves transfixed by Malick’s unique filmmaking sensibilities, this stoically paced version of Malick’s tale will be a joy to be a part of.

It’s hard to put into words just how beautifully put together and hypnotic The New World is should you let it wash over you and take you away in a manner that only Malick at its best can do, as the filmmaker’s collaboration with legendary production designer Jack Fisk and renowned cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki achieves resounding results in this end product.

It’s not hard to see the similarities to Lubezki’s work here to Oscar heavyweight The Revenant on which he was inspired by The New World from and his collaboration with Malick really is a match made in heaven, as if nothing else, this dream-like experience takes us on a visually splendid adventure to a time and place long since forgone.

Key to the effectiveness and moving nature of Malick’s grand vision here however is how his clear affiliation and respect for the story of Pocahontas allows him to deliver one of his most straight-forward and accessible films of his career.

Never officially named in the film as Pocahontas, the Native American princess is luminously brought to life by then first time actress Q’orianka Kilcher, who lights up the film with her verve and energy that combines well with the more solid but grounded work of lead actors Christian Bale and Colin Farrell.

Her turn ranks right up the best turns in a Malick film, up there with Sissy Spacek’s unforgettable performance in Badlands and Jessica Chastain’s glowing turn in The Tree of Life and while the film may not reach the near perfectly pitched highs of Malick’s adored Days of Heavens, Badlands, The Thin Red Line and The Tree of Life, The New World is arguably not far away from being just as quintessential as those works, works that assured Malick would go down as one of the all-time great filmmakers, regardless of the naysayers and unaffected by the more forgettable entries that Malick has delivered over the last decade.

Watching Pocahontas’s story unfold before our very eyes as her love for Farrell’s John Smith and then Christian Bales John Rolfe takes us on a spellbinding nature filled journey, examining man’s place in this world and quest to better our more bloodthirsty and primitively destructive spirits is a cinematic delight, that whilst not perfect, is more affecting and illuminating that so many other cookie cutter offerings that Malick has managed to avoid over an impressively constructed career, driven by projects that inspire and move him and allow us as an audience to be left memorized by the results.

Final Say –

Allowing more time to enjoy the beauty on screen, this extended version of The New World is a must-watch for fans of Malick’s work, as the once in a lifetime talent showcases a love story for the ages, that just so happens to act as one of the most eye-capturing films ever shot.

4 ½ kettles out of 5

6 responses to “Classic Review – The New World (2005)

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