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on 31 March 2015
Malick is dreamy as usual. His characters exist in mists and fog. The world is fluid and flows around them. They drift through landscapes. Even their encounters with others are not solid. Little dialogue, limited interaction, the other an alien being. Is life then a dream? Is this what his poetics say? Could be. It's one reading. I like the lack of solidity in him. There are spaces and cracks in reality through which our certainties fall. Things aren't always what they seem, he says, and for this reason he's deeply loved by those who love great cinema. He is not a pretender. Instead, that rare thing — a film artist.

He gives us a John Smith in chains, rocking in the hold of the ship. He is incarcerated for another serious infraction. He will be judged when the ship reaches land. He may be hanged this time. He has come all the way to the New World in chains to die, a fate that many African slaves will later encounter. But if this happens, if Malick allows Smith to die, history will be altered and Pocahontas will not emerge as she actually did. So he must live and they must meet. He does and they do.

In Malick's hands the encounter is beautiful. They meet the way wild two animals in the bush do. At first, recognition, the image of the other. Then stillness, silence, intense observation. Then slow, deliberate movements, a cautious approach, a better look. Finally, the close-up gaze, the wonder, the first touch. In it we feel the deeper symbolism. Old World is Smith, Pocahontas the New. Europe is decadent, despoiled, rotten. America is fresh, pure, beautiful. Smith is hairy, bearded, dirty, barbarous. Pocahontas, the regal princess, looks every inch a royal. Smith knows what good fortune has brought him. This is Eden and he can begin again in it. The look in his eyes says he loves her from the start, and any man of feeling feels the same in seeing her on the screen.

Such was the promise the New World made, an accident of history that gave some second chances. An idea then, a thing of the imagination, as much as a physical place. But trouble, never far away in life, was built-in. With the Europeans came Old World ideas. God was in the sky, not in the rivers and trees. Power was iron and steel. The land looked different too. It was wilderness that needed taming. Timber filled the forests, not trees. Open spaces were farmland, not meadows and fields. Land became property; it was monied and could be owned. The natives thought the newcomers were mentally ill, and perhaps they were. Whoever thought of that — owning land, forests, lakes, the sky? Who made these foolish ideas, and who was foolish enough to follow them? The Europeans were laughed at. They were children, not serious, not mature adults. But there was a problem. They had gun powder, muskets, cannons — all these magically destructive things. And more and more of these would come from over the ocean. When this was understood the laughter ceased. Accommodation, compromise and treaties were tried. But these were disingenuous, a way for the Europeans to buy time, because in the end they wanted and took everything. Greed was one of the Seven Deadly Sins, but they didn't care and so they sinned, and thereby handed on their sins to us.

The Old World conquered the New and made it old. Pocahontas and her kind would fade into history as if they barely had been. Hence her legendary status today, half-real, half-myth. She was real for sure, but the world she lived in, a world plunged into deep crisis, would be altered beyond recognition.

It's easy to romanticize the past, especially the lives and cultures of the Native Americans. Once destroyed, they become noble, a nobility created by their harmlessness. Then they are safely celebrated, even deified. Today many Americans of European stock are eager to search their ancestries in the hope of finding some native blood. Odd, isn't it, the way we come to love the things we destroy.

Malick doesn't go in for romance. At least not the phony kind. His story of contact is tragedy. We see what's about to be lost and we ask ourselves for what? For strip malls, highways and nuclear reactors? His poetry forces us to look and wonder, to see his green world and the natural beings in it, both human and non-human. We see the newcomers too, struggling to make a foothold in a beautiful but hostile world, one for which they are hardly prepared and ignorant of.

The history of conquest is filled with blood and tears. Malick wants us to remember this. He shows us what will be lost — a vast and great heritage that we'll never have because we chose to destroy it.
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on 4 July 2012
This is specifically a review of the Extended Cut in relation to the original cut, for those who are wondering wether the extension is worthwhile or not, as i did before purchasing. I had seen the original cut a couple of times and come to the conclusion that it was one of the most beautiful films I had ever experienced, and one of my favourites of the films in general, a genuine masterpiece. I was unsure what the extension would add, wether it would actually improve the film or perhaps even diminish it but I definitely wanted to see for myself. After watching it i can say that if you are a fan of the original cut, it is definitely worth buying, if you are not, leave this place.
I was surprised by just how substantial the new material was, and how seamlessly it was integrated. The extension to the film is not just a few extra scenes spliced in here and there but a restructuring of the film itself incorporating new elements and replacing old ones in a way that flowed quite naturally, the whole thing had more detail, more depth. It would be uneccessary for me to try and list all the additions, but highlights for me were extensions to the scenes of Smith living with the natives that made the whole sequence even more mesmerising, giving greater insight into their daily lives, and extensions and additions to the relationship of Smith and 'Pocahontas' that gave their story deeper impact and involvement.
As a great fan of Terrence Malick's film making in general, I'd relish any opportunity to see more of his work, and so this was in the end an unmissable purchase for me. If you too are a fan and want more, I'd definitely recommend it, if you haven't seen either cut of the film before, I think i might suggest watching the original first to see if you want to go deeper. If you are not a fan, why are you still here? I thought I instructed you to leave.
Anyway, where's that 6 hour cut of The Tree of Life?
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The New World is the least of Terrence Malick's limited filmography to date, and could be best described as a monotone poem. It's not exactly bad, just mundane and rather forgettable even while you're watching it, more of a self-indulgence than a genuine attempt to communicate with an audience. Visually it often seems surprisingly flat and uninspired, while the script comprises of far too many trite voice over questions s-p-o-k-e-n...v-e-r-y...s-l-o-w-l-y...i-n...h-u-s-h-e-d...t-o-n-e-s against selections from his classical music collection, which doesn't magically render them profound but simply makes the film evenly paced to the point where nothing can stand out: even the battle sequence takes time out for more musings. Another big problem is the miscasting of the inexplicably prolific Colin Farrell, a nice enough lad offscreen I'm sure but an extraordinarily limited actor who just cannot carry a picture no matter how many chances he's given. True to form he trots out his two `important picture' expressions - the Bambi-caught-in-the-headlights-of-an-oncoming-car one and the one he thinks looks serious but simply makes him look like he's not been getting enough roughage in his diet. The fact that he's outshone by Q'orianka Kilcher in her first speaking part speaks volumes of his inadequacy, although to be fair he has been worse. Indeed, among the male leads Christian Bale does much, much more with much, much less in the last third of the film, as does a typically underused Christopher Plummer in the first third.

Malick is very good at the madness and mutiny that infects the deluded settlers of Jamestown, but because it happens to people we've barely been introduced to it carries no emotional or dramatic weight. If anything, it just made me think of how much more Herzog could have made of it all. Moments work, most notably the expulsion of the `Naturals' from their land, but on the evidence of the 135-minute version I very much doubt Malick's promised longer cut will solve the problems. I know it's meant to be a work of art, but I just came away with the feeling that I'd watched an old and very average Universal International 50s Western redubbed by first-year philosophy students. The only surprise was that Jeff Chandler and his bouncing Basques didn't crop up.
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on 26 January 2015
A recent feeling to explore movies, music, and/or other media to further understand my Native American/Menominee Indian heritage (inherited from my biological mother and maternal grandmother) is what prompted me to watch The New World movie (even if the movies are about other American Indian tribes) starring Colin Farrell (as Captain John Smith) and Qorianka Kilcher (as Pocahontas). I found out about The New World movie from a 2012 article on the Forbes website (I intend to update the article and writer by March or earlier). Christian Bale (plays John Rolfe) also makes an appearance in the The New World movie. The setting of the New World movie opens in the year 1607 in Virginia. The tension between the Powatan Native American Tribes and the English born settlers starts to show early in the movie. Without giving too much in the movie, the beginning shows how both groups at first got along despite the language barrier and tension. The film even showed that Pocahantas and other members of her tribe were instrumental in helping the settlers with their food challenge when they were all in grave danger of starving to death. I want to say more, but feel intuitively guided to avoid doing so for those who have yet to see The New World movie.
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The story 'Disney' brought back to life in the cartoon version inspiring
youngsters all over the world, became adapted as it's historical tale
in 2006 by director 'Terence Malick'
It tells of the English mission of exploration arrivingon the coastline the
visitors called 'Virginia' in the early 17th century.
The 'Naturals' watch on as the strangers led by 'Captain Newport'
(Christopher Plummer) drop anchor and come ashore.
'John Smith' who had been accused of mutinous talk is spared from
hanging by the Captain.
It is decided that they will build a settlement with the initial intention of
building a trust between them and the Naturals.
When the Captain sets sail to collect supplies for the new-world
settlement 'John Smith' (Colin Farrell) is left in command.
On a discovery mission up river 'John' is held by the natives, he
lives among them for some considerable time, he try's to understand
their culture, whilst becoming closer and closer to the 'King' (Chief's)
young daughter 'Pocahontas' (Q'orianka Kilcher)
When the naturals return 'John' back to his own people he finds they
are near to starving and riddled with disease.
The trust between the Naturals and the settlers deteriorates leading
to bloody conflict.
The romance between 'John' and 'Pocahontas' still simmers leading
to the young princess being disowned by her father.
Later on, 'Pocahontas' is told that 'John' had died, now the young
princess finds herself alone among people that are strange, she
slides into depression, but attracts the attention of a new settler 'John
Rolfe' (Christian Bale)
As history tells us, 'Pocahontas' travels to England to live.
The film had mixed reviews when released in the U.K.
(I haven't watched it for some considerable time, previously having
watched the 'theatrical' version on DVD )
I have owned the Blu-ray extended version for some time watching it
for the first time now. (Extended Version 171 minutes)
The story is of love, suspicion, and mistrust.
The beginning in truth of the true occupants of America losing their lands.
It's actually a very good film.
The picture and sound quality -Excellent.
Features include -
* Behind the Story.
* Making the New World.
* Comprehensive 10 part documentary.
* Theatrical Trailers.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 September 2007
This movie is not easy to rate. The first hour is horrible - boring, dull and weird. The second part is better and the last 15 minutes are rather good. Still, I would give it only one star if it was not the performance of young Q'orianka Kilcher, who saves this movie from disaster.

There are some good points - the landscapes are great, the reconstruction of ships, weapons, costumes, Indian villages and the good town of Jamestown itself are realistic and well made and Christian Bale gives a good performance.

There are however many more bad points - for some reason Colin Farrell was not allowed to play at all. He mostly just wanders aimlessly and keeps a sullen silence, when showing an angry or suffering face. The movie is very long and sleepy. There are very few dialogues, mostly there are just the narrators (mostly Kilcher and sometimes Farrell) who speak from time to time, without any emotion in their voices, putting in some sentences which certainly were supposed to be deeply philosophical but which are not... There is not even ONE moment of humour in the movie, in fact everybody seems totally depressed, except for some scenes at the very end.

I am not certain what director tried to do with this movie and after the first hour I mostly didn't care anymore. Still, I managed to hold until the end, but it was rather painful. I would recommend it for a rainy sleepy afternoon, when there is nothing else to watch - although just going to walk in the rain could be a nicer and more productive experience...
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on 22 July 2015
Quite simply one of the most beautiful, mesmerising and profoundly moving films I have ever seen.

Action movie fans - look elsewhere and do not be fooled by the cover or by the trailer. This is most definitely not another 'Last of the Mohicans' or anything like it. It is much, much more. It is that rarest of things in these days of disposable, homogenised, multiplex fodder - it is a work of (dare I say it!) art. With a capital 'A'.

This is not so much a film that you watch as you literally experience. Incredible!
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on 4 October 2015
I wanted to watch this film to imbibe another fix of Malick's unique movie elixir. I'd watched Tree of Life a while back and was impressed enough to watch more of his films. I felt disappointment in watching New World. Admittedly one signs up for a very different (unique) movie experience with Mallick's films, but New World meandered along for nearly three hours at a very pedestrian pace; overplaying understatement more often than not.

Other reviewers have suggested Mallick films are about the art of cinema. That is indisputable. But this particular cinema art bordered on tedium. There were plenty of selling points for the movie. Not least the prescience that the red Indian chieftain displayed in his concern that the white man will keep on coming. It was also very poignant how utterly uncivilised the explorer camp became when left in the care of an undisciplined, incompetent man.

The most significant negative for me, aside from the tortuously drawn out depictions of minutiae? I had a problem in taking Colin Farrell's mumbled acting-by-numbers seriously. I felt Mallick made an error of judgement in this choice.

I think when Mallick gets his strange art of movie making right, it is incomparable and memorable. The New World is not in this class for me though.
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on 14 July 2014
As others have said this is an art film. Lovely photography, great settings, realism etc but it is very slow and the love story (both for the native woman and the new Eden) does not convince, and that's mainly down to Colin Farrell who gives the overwhelming impression he does not want to be there.
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on 27 October 2012
This version has many positive points indeed. For one the Indians are real Indians. For two the Indian life style is a lot more realistic than in most other versions and what happens in the films is more credible than in most other versions. It is highly probably that the Indians were a lot more hostile than thought as soon as they understood the English were going and planning to stay, and thus Smith had lied to them and promised their departure whereas he knew it was a lie.

The other side is just as realistic. The English die like flies the first year of diseases, cold and hunger, and also because of the Indians but this vision of the English is also realistic in the extreme violence they were confronted to and the extreme violence they submitted the Indians to. The Indians tried to overwhelm them with numbers but the English just burnt the villages and killed everyone, burnt the harvests and the crops forcing the Indians to go away or starve before being exterminated. The film is even clear about the intention of pushing the Indians away from the very start.

But apart from that realistic dimension of the film, the story itself is an embellished love story that has little to do with what probably really happened. Pocahontas was ten when Smith appeared and not a grown young woman. Her religious position and training is not at all explicated and thus the Indian culture is not at all exploited as a highly spiritual culture. It is reduced to some kind of ritualistic, superstitious, extremely "primitive" behavior and relishing paint and other body adornments. All testimonies show clearly that the Indian civilization was a highly advanced one in the field of mental and spiritual empathy with other people and with the other side of reality, the supernatural side that more or less dictates its energetic lead to this world.

But the worst part is the erasing of the real chronology and the role of Argall in the game. The abduction is supposedly coming after the "father" of Pocahontas had banned her from the tribe into exile into another tribe of the Powhatan alliance. That erases the Indian husband Pocahontas had, and her Indian son. That erases the abduction, the killing of her Indian husband and the escape of her Indian son who had been moved to some relatives when the Indians realized Pocahontas was being fooled into abduction. That also more or less makes the abduction easier: she believes she is being saved from exile by her Captain Smith.

The fable of Smith being saved by her is of course central though this is only in the second version of the event that Smith gave in 1624, two years after the bloody upheaval of the Indians, which had an obvious impact on the whole testimony on the colony up to 1622. In his first account of 1608 there is nothing about his life being menaced and it being saved then by Pocahontas. The love affair is of course justified by that salvation.

Then the marriage with John Rolfe is hyper-unrealistic. During her abduction she was raped. She gave birth to her mixed-blood son before being married to John Rolfe and that son, strangely enough is named after the governor of the Colony, Sir Thomas Dale, who had had access to her during her captivity, and even worse, John Rolfe, the secretary of the colony, did not register his "own" son on the books of the colony, showing that either the boy was not his son and he did not care registering him, or that he was considered as a non-entity because he was a mixed-blood, revealing the basic racism of the English towards the Indians and the clear anti-Indian policy of the Church of England. All that is just forgotten in the film.

The final untruth is of course about her death. The film forgets to tell us the captain of the trip to England and back to America was Argall, the captain who abducted her, and the film pretends she knew before going to London that Smith was not dead, and hence had lied to her and to the Powhatan alliance. That makes the death easy and the hypothesis of her being poisoned is nicely evacuated. At the same time what happens to her son is not that clear.

The last element that is absolutely unacceptable is the music that has nothing to do with the historical period and the Indian context of many scenes. No Indian music and in England we have piano music as if the piano already existed in the early 16th century.

So it is interesting to see the film because of its realism but it is highly un-historical if not anti-historical. Could have done better with a little help from simple historical research. Real history is just as entertaining as ideological biased story-telling.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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