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The New World

  • Film

Time Out says

It’s only January, but 2006 is unlikely to supply a more richly rewarding film than Malick’s lustrous retelling of Pocahontas’ story. Yet again he proves himself one of America’s most remarkable filmmakers, with a blend of stirring historical drama and moving love story that’s not only wondrously beautiful down to every perfectly executed detail, but imaginatively poetic and philosophically profound.

It begins and ends with a paradise found: first, that of the pristine Virginian wilderness, penetrated in 1607 by British ships; second, a more private domain of inner peace, improbably discovered in a wintry Britain by the Powhatan princess (Q’Orianka Kilcher), having left her homeland in the company of husband John Rolfe (Christian Bale). In between, others contemplate the possibility of blissfully perfect states of being, including John Smith (Colin Farrell), a restless rebel left to oversee food-gathering forays when Captain Newport (Christopher Plummer) returns home for supplies. Captured by the Powhatan tribe but shown mercy by the Chief, Smith arouses feelings of love in his host’s daughter when she’s told to translate and learn more about the alien’s ways – it’s a love that seems mutual, but has lethal consequences for both the native Americans and the British intruders…

Drawing not only upon the transcendentalist ideas of Emerson, Thoreau and Heidegger but nineteenth century Romantic landscape painting and Wagner (‘Das Rheingold’ is several times used to stunning effect), Malick mixes meticulously researched ethnographic detail with a real awareness of the mythic scope of his material. Eliciting subtly nuanced performances from a carefully chosen cast – 15-year-old Kilcher is especially effective – and stunning, effects-lite images from Emmanuel Lubezki, Malick gives us a genuine American epic, timeless and – given what time saw befall that paradise – tragic. (NB: The release version is shorter and different from the one first shown to the UK press and reviewed here.)
Written by GA

Release Details

  • Rated:12A
  • Release date:Friday 27 January 2006
  • Duration:150 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Terrence Malick
  • Screenwriter:Terrence Malick
  • Cast:
    • Christopher Plummer
    • Q'orianka Kilcher
    • Raoul Trujillo
    • Jonathan Pryce
    • Colin Farrell
    • August Schellenberg
    • Wes Studi
    • Christian Bale
    • David Thewlis
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