Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a look at Terrence Malick's John Smith/Pocahontas tale THE NEW WORLD. This one was supposed to come out last month, but I think the studio decided to go for maximum Oscar exposure and release it at the tail end of December, which is understandable. Malick's movies are brilliant, but not really money-makers, so the awards buzz could be just the push it needs. Whether it's a box office smash or flop, I really don't give a shit. I just know I'm dying to see this one. Malick's films are very poetic and no one working today gives us a movie like Malick does. Enjoy the review!
Hey Harry and gang,
First time reviewer, long time reader.
Last night I had the privilege to see Terrence Malick's latest film "The New World". I haven't heard too much surrounding the picture (which doesn't surprise me) so I thought I'd chime in with my two cents.
I am a fan of Malick's other three films: "Badlands, "Days of Heaven" and "The Thin Red Line" so I was really looking forward to this one.
I'll come right out and say it: I LOVED IT. You'll have to wait a moment about why I loved it. I have to give a bit of exposition first.
The film follows Pocahontas (Q'orianka Kilcher) through the time that the Jamestown settlers arrived in Virginia in 1607 to the time she moves to England in 1615 (or there abouts)
It is through voice over that most of the film's dialog is heard. Otherwise it could have almost been a silent film with a music track. Pocahontas, whom is never referred to by that name, narrates most of the time as does Captain John Smith (Colin Farrel) and John Rolfe (Christian Bale) the two other staples of the film.
There isn't much of a story in the sense of traditional Hollywood fare. Yes, events happen, things develop, but it is in the realm of a visual poem. The film moves along well enough, but as are all of Malick's films, it is in a meditative state. Thus some audiences might feel bored.
And before any of you say, this is a boring review, it is quite hard to write about a film that was such a unique experience for me. So I'm going to use the example of "King Kong" to help support my "New World" reasoning...
"King Kong" was pure excitement. It was on the surface. Bubbling over. Things were right there. I was emotionally involved in the film. I almost cried several times...
But "The New World"... well that went a little different. It went deeper, beyond the core of my emotions, into the realm of sub conscious. A place where I experienced almost no thought, no sadness, just pure being. Existing. It was in such a way that it was like floating on water, moving downstream. Letting the current take you.
That is why I loved the film. It was pure cinema, right down to the core, beyond the core. I don't want to sound too cheesy but the film lives inside me. It was so full of life and beauty.
All right, enough sappiness you say. Let's get down to the basics. The acting is good. Q'oriana Kilcher plays Pocahontas and she is lovely. Subtle, natural, honest. Her performance is of course the one that people will call a stand out. Malick seems to have fallen in love with her and he makes the audience fall in love as well.
Mr. Farrell on the other hand does his part. He is a conflicted man. A man that comes to this new world expecting to be executed but gets a second chance. Farrell brings both a love and a skepticism to his John Smith.
And then there's Batman... Bale doesn't appear in the film until rather late and doesn't do much. But his Rolfe is a good man, genuine and peaceful. Which actually surprised me. He is in no way jealous or angry when he finds out about Smith and that Pocahontas, now called Rebecca, is still in love with him.
Christopher Plummer's role seems to have been cut down. The dialog from the trailer about living in peace with these people and not letting America go wrong in it's first hour, is completely gone. In fact speaking of dialog, much of what we hear can be hard to understand because of accents. This however does not detract from the film. Most of the dialog could be considered unimportant anyway. The cinematography was gorgeous. I think I've made that evident so far. The camera captures nature and the natives in such a way, that you are taken there. It is like traveling back in time. This film is probably as close to authentic as films can get.
After the screening I attended there was a Q and A with the costume designer and set dresser and like the LOTR films, you could just feel the love they had for this project. The great bond the crew had. All the natives' costumes were made locally in the Jamestown area with the help of artisans. They shot ten miles away from the actual Jamestown site. They actually built the Jamestown set out of the same materials that the settlers did.
To hear about how Malick works was a treat. He shoots three hundred and sixty degrees, so all sets have to be fully built. And he never cuts until the film rolls out.
"The New World" is so far off the beaten track, I honestly don't know how people will react overall to the film. New Line is marketing it as a historical epic with substantial action.
It is not that film.
All I can hope for is that people will give it a chance and see it.
Well that's about all I can muster for a review.If you use this call me... Son of Indy