The New World

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The New World (2005)

Directed by Terrence Malick

Starring: Colin Farrell, Christian Bale, Christopher Plummer, Q’orianka Kilcher

Terrence Malick wrote and directed this Oscar nominated film in 2005. The movie was nominated for Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards, losing to Memoirs of a Geisha. The film stars Colin Farrell (Total Recall (2012)), Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music), Q’orianka Kilcher (Sons of Anarchy), and Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises).

Captain Smith (Farrell) is part of an expedition to North America that has landed in what would become the Virginia Colony. While exploring the territory he comes across a tribe of Native Americans and falls in love with a young Pocahontas (Kilcher). Their love is challenged by the people on both sides. As the colonists seek to expand their new-found home, the native people seek to expel them from the land. This contention is only part of the tragedy that befalls the pair as they seek answers for how their relationship can exist.

It took me a long time to decide how to describe this film. The story isn’t the Disney Pocahontas version that most people have learned. This is a deep examination of the consequences of forbidden love and the sacrifices that come with it. The story is almost secondary to some of the most beautiful visuals in a feature film. Malick is a genius when it comes to visual storytelling. His camera work comes together in wonderful ways when taken to such beautiful locations.

The acting in this movie is dependent on actions and not words. There is good dialogue, but the actors expressiveness is really put to the test. Farrell and Kilcher have a wonderful chemistry on the screen. She also works nicely with Bale. The movie sometimes feels like a silent film, with the visuals really overpowering the score. It’s a unique film to experience, and one worth watching if you love powerful visuals.

This movie often felt like The Thin Red Line. There is a meaning within this movie that transcends the storyline. I don’t know how to describe it, perhaps it’s philosophical or maybe even spiritual. It just makes each moment mean something. With Malick’s reputation for editing until the last-minute I have to imagine that every scene is meant to be there. For this movie he even scrapped the majority of the score late in the post-production process. All of this is part of the unique vision of Terrence Malick.

This movie isn’t without flaws. The pace of this film is slow and often frustrating at times. The story also seems to be only a framework for something with more depth. It has some abstract moments that require close attention to detail to see the connection to the rest of the story. This is not a movie that you just sit down and check out. This movie needs your attention and your time. It was worth it for me, but it might not be for everyone.

I think I’ve rambled enough about this film. It’s a wonderful movie for anyone who loves the art of cinema. If you love history or the drama and romance that come along with this story, you should see this film. I give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 135 minutes


  1. This was a great film to see on the big movie screen. Really allowed the poetry of the images to overwhelm. I agree that many will find it too meandering, but I enjoy it greatly.


  2. Great review. This movie, like most Malick pictures, definitely has a story that seems like it’s missing something, but is still a flick that’s always beautiful and always a sight to just gaze at for a long, long time.


    1. I think that if Malick could team up with a master storyteller they could make incredible films that have the visual and emotional content people look for in epic films.


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